If both questions can be answered affirmatively, the housing must attempt to make reasonable accommodations for the ESA and its owner. Even if the property has a “no pets” policy, the law states that such policies do not apply to ESAs. However, it’s important to understand that there are certain limitations to the accommodations that a housing provider can be legally required to make. Here are examples of situations in which a housing provider can legitimately deny your ESA housing request:
For ESA owners, finding housing shouldn’t be stressful. Following these simple steps can help you successfully find a home for you and your ESA:
Understanding your rights as an ESA owner can help you be better prepared to successfully defend yourself against discrimination and unfair treatment.
An ESA letter is an important document that you will need to communicate your ESA request with a property owner, as well as validate your right to an ESA if necessary. Keep reading below to learn more about how to get an ESA letter.
You can decide either to tell the landlord about your ESA before or after you sign your lease. While you are not required to inform them during the application process, it can be helpful to determine whether the landlord is able to make the legally-required reasonable accommodation.
If you already have housing and are interested in adding an ESA to your home, you may be exempt from a “no pets” policy. Complete the process above, then communicate your ESA rights to your landlord clearly and respectfully.
When it comes to finding a home with your ESA, you have the right to fair treatment and reasonable accommodation. However, without an ESA letter, it can be difficult to assert your rights in the face of unfair discrimination. Getting a valid ESA letter is an important step in securing housing for you and your emotional support animal.
As ESA letter serves as your “prescription” for an ESA, documentation the professional recommendation for an emotional support animal. An ESA letter is issued and signed by a licensed medical professional, essentially proving that have a diagnosed need for your ESA. ESA letters are extremely important to protect your housing rights as an ESA owner and are also extremely useful for air travel purposes.
An ESA letter must contain specific elements in order to be considered valid:
An ESA letter is valid for one year from the date of issue.
An ESA letter must be issued by a licensed mental health professional in order to be considered valid. Even if you are not currently seeing a mental health professional, a service like Support Pets can connect you with a licensed doctor who can provide an ESA letter if you qualify.
Patients with a wide range of mental, emotional, and psychological conditions may qualify for an emotional support animal. If you currently rely on your pet for emotional support, or if your pet provides significant relief from your mental or emotional challenges, you may be able to obtain an ESA letter.
Qualifying conditions include:
You should inform your landlord about your ESA by providing him or her with a copy of your ESA letter. It is your decision whether you prefer to communicate the situation before or after signing your lease, as you are not required to provide any details during the application process.
The best way to protect your ESA rights is to clearly communicate with the property owner. Don’t be surprised if your landlord is unaware of ESA laws; because ESAs are still fairly new, many people do not know that there are certain rules and regulations addressing ESA rights. Take a positive approach if possible, directing your landlord towards information about ESA laws if they challenge your request.
No. Because an emotional support animal is considered a “tool” to aid with a disability rather than simply a “pet,” owners cannot be required to pay a pet deposit.
No. Additional rental fees and costs cannot be charged for your emotional support animal. It’s important to note that if your ESA damages the property, you can be held financially liable.
There is no required registration process for emotional support animals, and your landlord cannot require you to enter your ESA in any sort of registry. Many people get misled about companies falsely advertising the idea of a “national registry,” but no such thing exists. All you need to provide is your ESA letter.
No. There is no special identification required for emotional support animals.
Absolutely not. Your ESA letter is the only documentation you need for your ESA accommodation request. Your landlord is not legally able to request details about your specific condition, and cannot require you to submit medical records or additional information.
While ESA laws require that landlords attempt to make reasonable accommodation for an ESA, there are a few cases in which a refusal may be permitted:
No, breed and age cannot be grounds for ESA refusal. There are no specific requirements for breed, or age of an ESA, so your landlord cannot consider these factors in their refusal. Property-specific breed restrictions also do not apply to ESAs.
If your landlord refuses your ESA request even after you’ve provided a valid ESA letter, the first step you can take is to request a formal letter than explains the rejection. After reviewing the letter, you can choose to reply (via email or letter) with a statement that you’ve provided all required documentation in the form of your ESA letter, and that they are nevertheless rejecting your reasonable accommodation request.
At that point, one option is to inform the property owner that you will be contacting the HUD to file an official complaint detailing the discrimination. Try to keep your tone professional, calm, and neutral, and avoid escalating the issue into an argument. After your landlord receives your notification of intent to file a complaint, they may conduct their own research and decide to reconsider your request as a result after learning more about ESA laws.
However, if the landlord stands by their refusal, you can move forward with a HUD complaint. You can submit your complaint using the online system, or print and mail a complaint form to the following address:
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W., Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410
You may also file a complaint with your state’s housing agency.
No. There are no training requirements or specific certifications for an emotional support animal, unlike a service dog. However, it is important that your emotional support animal is able to properly behave in a positive manner in order to avoid potential issues. Your ESA should be able to function in public spaces when needed, and not pose a threat to the property or other residents.
If your emotional support animal causes damage to rental property, you can be held liable. Your landlord can legally charge you for damages incurred, and may even ask you to leave the property.
If your ESA threatens or harms another resident at the property, your landlord can legally revoke your ESA approval or evict you. For this reason, basic training is very important.
No, simply getting an ESA is not suitable grounds for eviction. You should follow proper procedures when getting an ESA, providing your landlord with an ESA letter. If you have completed the correct steps, your landlord cannot evict you simply because of a “no pets” policy. You also cannot be evicted for refusing to pay pet deposits or pet rent, because those are not legally applicable to ESAs.
Support Pets provides a fast, convenient option for qualifying applicants to obtain an ESA housing letter, saving you time, stress, and money. We partner with licensed medical practitioners to connect our customers with professional ESA letters, protecting your rights and allowing you to fight back against housing discrimination. With an ESA housing letter from Support Pets, you can seek reasonable accommodation for your ESA – even if your landlord or management company has a “no pets” policy.
Starting the ESA letter process is as easy as taking our short online quiz and submitting your request. After completing a simple doctor’s questionnaire, one of Support Pets’ licensed medical professionals will review your case and issue a valid ESA if you qualify.
Learn more about ESA requirements, qualifying conditions, and more by visiting our FAQs page today.
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