All About Emotional Support Animals and Renting

Emotional Support Animal All About Emotional Support Animals and Renting

What You Must Know If You Are Renting With Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are therapy animals that help treat an aspect of their owners' mental condition. In the US, there were 200,000 ESAs in 2019, which required housing. There are specific laws that govern emotional support animals and renting. It's essential to know them to secure ESA housing.

It's critical to understand that ESA animals are not service dogs. The latter are trained animals that offer assistance to their owners with physical or mental disabilities. However, ESAs only offer companionship and help alleviate stress, anxiety, phobia, or depression related to psychiatric conditions. They aren't trained.

Therefore, the law often supports service dogs, leaving out therapy dogs. Nonetheless, securing an emotional support animal apartment requires you to get a recommendation ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, which you must present to your landlord. You can also use it to bring your ESA onboard a flight as proof that you need the animal as part of your treatment.

That's where the problem comes in. Your therapist may not understand landlord-tenant laws for emotional support animasl. But worry not because DoNotPay can help you with your ESA rental laws concerns. We can help you identify an affordable online ESA-letter example/template and even contact your flight agent if you intend to fly with your ESA dog in the Southwest.

What Is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is an official document that proves your furry friend is an emotional support animal. Only a professional, licensed mental health specialist in your state can draw up the letter. Some of the details that must appear in the letter include:

  • The therapist's official letterhead
  • Date of ESA letter issuance
  • Name of the therapists'
  • Name and contacts of the practice
  • Date when they obtained their license
  • The type of emotional support animals
  • Details about your ongoing mental-health treatment

What Is the Federal Law on Emotional Support Animals and Landlords?

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is the federal law that protects the privileges of service animals and assistance dogs, comprising therapy animals. These laws prevent discrimination against tenants who own ESAs.  Even in "no-pets" apartments, a landlord is required to make "reasonable accommodation" to allow emotional support animals and waiver rental fees to accommodate the animal.

What Do Apartments Need for Emotional Support Animals?

To qualify your Fido or feline as an emotional support animal, you must obtain an official ESA letter. It must be written and signed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The document lets the landlord know that the dog helps in your mental disability.

The document indicates that the Fair Housing Act protects you against discrimination in housing. Hence, the landlord cannot deny your request for a rental unit or charge a pet fee for an ESA apartment.

Who Can Write an ESA Letter?

Several doctors qualify as licensed mental health professionals. They are the ones legally recognized to prescribe a therapy dog as part of your mental disability treatment. Hence, they must specify an individual's disability and the disability-related symptoms that the animal helps alleviate.

Any of the following licensed healthcare specialists can write up an ESA letter:
  • Clinical social worker
  • Psychologist
  • Registered nurse (RN)
  • Certified counselor
  • Doctor's assistant
  • licensed marriage and family therapist
  • Psychiatrist
Some of the common mental conditions that qualify individuals to receive an ESA letter:
  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  4. Chronic stress
  5. Learning disabilities
  6. Attention deficit disorder

Do Airlines Require an ESA Letter to Allow Emotional Support Animals Onboard?

Yes. Under federal law, airlines cannot discriminate against people with disabilities for traveling with their service animals. However, they are now allowed to treat ESAs as pets. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't apply to planes, the little-known Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects passengers with physical and mental disabilities. That means they can bring their service dogs onboard.

However, because ESAs are untrained therapy animals, they may cause disruptions onboard a flight. Coupled with the unusual species passengers bring along, airlines have even stricter ESA policies. You may only bring your untrained ESA on a plane so long as you present a legitimate ESA letter for housing.

Apart from the details of an ESA letter indicated above, an airline will check the letter to see if it satisfies the following requirements:

  • Must be issued within a year of the travel date
  • Indicate that the individual has a mental disability recognized under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV)
  • Specify that the ESA dog helps in treating a symptom of the owner's mental disability

Take Advantage of DoNotPay and Get Help Accessing ESA Housing and Flight Accommodation

You may face many challenges when requesting your landlord or airline to accommodate your emotional support animal. Additionally, you may not lack the time or resources to visit an LMHP's practice in person. Not to highlight how difficult it is to find a licensed online ESA-letter service.

All those situations can be frustrating, but you can leverage DoNotPay, and let us advocate for you. You need not worry about the legal policies surrounding ESA housing or flight anymore. In three easy steps, you can provide us with details about your situation, and we'll contact your landlord or flight agent to ensure you enjoy your ESA privileges.

Below is the three-step procedure you need to complete on DoNotPay to get the help you need:

  1. Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.

     

  2. Select the type of issue you need help with, including contacting your landlord about your ESA/service animal, asking your airline about ESA options, or requesting ESA/service accommodations at other venues.

     

  3. Answer a series of questions about your current situation and the details of your ESA/service animal, so we can generate the best results for you.

     

That's all. You can then leave the rest to us. We'll contact your landlord so that your ESA may get housing, call your flight agent to enquire about their ESA policies, and even identify a trusted online source to obtain a legitimate ESA letter!

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