Emotional support animals are some of the most helpful animal companions around, and they are necessary for many individuals who rely on their comfort and support throughout the day. It's often essential for individuals to ensure their ESAs can live with them and accompany them throughout their daily lives, which is why an ESA housing letter is necessary. Our guide tells you more about emotional support animals and their rights, in addition to discussing what an ESA housing letter actually is.
Emotional support animals (ESA) are a type of companion or support animal that differs from service animals. Emotional support animals are not trained to complete specific disability-related tasks for their owners, and they are not considered service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act or other state laws because of this. This means that ESAs have limited public access protections when compared to service dogs on both the federal and state levels.
That being said, emotional support animals do have federally protected rights when it comes to housing. The Fair Housing Act states that individuals are not allowed to be denied housing or discriminated against if they require an emotional support animal or a service animal to live with them in their building. Landlords and rental agencies are also not allowed to charge the individual needing their ESA with pet fees, pet rent, or any other applicable fee. In the case that the building or apartment complex doesn't typically allow animals, they will be obligated to allow both emotional support animals and service animals.
Every individual who wishes to live in an apartment complex, home, or other building with their emotional support animal must obtain an ESA housing letter. The ESA housing letter is your official record of needing an ESA and the documentation that you will need to show landlords or rental agencies to secure accommodated housing with your emotional support animal. Without a valid ESA housing letter, you won't be able to take advantage of your federally protected housing rights with your ESA.
Emotional support housing letters are often a controversial topic, as these may be purchased online from less-than-reputable sources. However, many states are working to change this, and you should be consulting specific state requirements to see the types of details required in your ESA housing letter. Many states also have requirements put in place that you must have an established relationship with the individuals writing and signing your ESA housing letter, something that cuts down on false ESA letters purchased in bulk from online companies.
If you are interested in obtaining an emotional support animal letter, your first step is to consult with your mental healthcare provider or your doctor about adding an emotional support animal to your care plan. They can help you decide on your next steps and whether or not an ESA is the right choice for your situation.
In most cases, your emotional support animal cannot be denied housing rights by a landlord or rental agency. This is applicable in cases where the building or apartment complex doesn't typically allow pets – they must allow emotional support animals and service animals in order to adhere to the federal Fair Housing Act.
However, your ESA accommodation request may be denied in certain circumstances. We list several valid reasons your emotional support animal might be denied below:
Make sure you understand what your state and federal rights are when attempting to request accommodations for your emotional support animals. If you feel that you have been unfairly denied housing accommodations due to your ESA or if a landlord or apartment complex is trying to charge you fees to keep your emotional support animal in your unit or home, then you should be reaching out to legal counsel that specializes in ESAs and disability accommodation rights.
Emotional support animals are wonderful companion animals that provide emotional and mental health support to their owners. With the presence of their ESA, many individuals can help calm themselves from certain conditions and have the confidence to tackle their daily tasks.
If you need to live with your emotional support animal, it can be nerve-wracking figuring out housing – an official ESA housing letter will help you with this problem and ensure that you secure your housing rights for you and your emotional support animal, regardless of where you live.
Exclusive Presentation by Resident Publications.