Before I show you how you can have your dog or cat allowed in any non-woof/purr friendly building in Chicago (or the entire United States), and even sit across from you at dinner at any restaurant in Chicago, let’s look at how so many buildings became no-pet buildings in Chicago.
Any animal lover will find out quickly while searching for Chicago condos or apartments that the majority of buildings built before the 80’s don’t allow pets. Most were built with no more than 2 bedrooms and did not have families in mind, let alone animals. People wanted the quiet enjoyment of their home and a clean building. Dogs and cats weren’t painted in that picture.
With the advent of pee mats, artificial grass pads, slim baggie holders, and dog walking becoming a solid side-hustle, owning a dog is much easier than ever before. Ever since dogs, specifically small dogs, have become a larger part of the downtown paradigm. Personally, I love it. Growing up with horses, dogs, cats, and other wildlife and being void of it living in the city makes the sight of a cheerful pup comparable to seeing a water bottle after a race.
How does this affect real estate? If I’m in Lincoln Park and I have 6 apartments available and then check the pet box, I will likely come back with zero. If I’m searching for condos in the same neighborhood, I will immediately exclude most high rises. As a renter or buyer, what can you do?
Is it fair that you can’t have a dog due to an outdated policy that was put in place with different buyers in mind? Changing the rules of a building with 10 people is difficult, let alone 110, so voting for change is likely a moot topic. You’re not going to get rid of your replacement for a baby so why should you be limited to your housing selection? I don’t think you should have to, and luckily the federal government agrees with me.
Since we were children and saw a person with sunglasses holding a big handle affixed to a sizeable dog, we’ve known what a service animal was. Most people are familiar with the term. A service animal can go anywhere their owner can. Here is a link to the exact rights, but that’s the gist of it. What most Chicagoans and the rest of Americans are unfamiliar with is an ESA, or an Emotional Support Animal. The ESA doctor’s letter allows every person in the United States the right to an animal, as long as your doctor says you need it. An Emotional Support Animal is defined as:
An emotional support animal (ESA), assistance animal, or support animal, is a companion animal that is intended to provide some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder. – Wiki
Here is an acceptance letter one of my clients used (and I used with permission):
Think about the joy your animal brings you. They are a member of your family and no one should be able to tell you they can’t come with you. Google emotional support letter and you’ll find a plethora of services that will provide these letters. Or, just call your physician.