Do I have to tell my landlord I have an emotional support animal?

ESA Pet Staff

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Emotional support animals are becoming increasingly popular. They can help to improve your quality of life. An emotional support animal can also do wonders for your mental and emotional health and overall wellbeing. 

Emotional support animals provide comfort and companionship and help to relieve stress. They can even help with various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

If you’re considering getting an emotional support animal to help your mental health, you must tell your landlord. Housing providers must exempt emotional support animals from no-pet policies, but you still need to give a heads-up and show proof of your ESA. Once you have an ESA Letter for Housing, you should have no issues moving into your new apartment or house.

 

 is an emotional support animal helpful for someone to maintain good healthWhat is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a pet that provides comfort and companionship to someone who has a mental or emotional disability. The individual must have a medical diagnosis documenting the need for an ESA letter.

Federal law does not require that an ESA have any special training or certification. As a result, an ESA can be any animal or breed. ESAs are often dogs and cats because they are easier to manage compared to other species like birds or reptiles. 

You must get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional stating that you need an emotional support animal to maintain good mental health.

What is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) passed back in 1968 and prevents discrimination in housing for all people, including those with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. The law states that housing providers cannot deny accommodations to any individual based on sex, race, national origin, religion, disability, and other categories. 

According to the Department of Justice and the FHA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits someone’s ability to participate in major life activities. Furthermore, under the FHA, emotional support animals are considered medical tools and a significant factor within a person’s treatment plan. 

Emotional Support Animals and The Fair Housing Act

According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords may not discriminate against tenants with disabilities and the ESAs that accompany them. Additionally, landlords cannot charge an additional pet deposit or fee for the assistance animal.

Here are some additional owner rights under the Fair Housing Act:

  • Landlords cannot require tenants to get rid of their emotional support animals before moving in.
  • Landlords cannot require tenants with emotional support animals to pay pet fees or extra deposits.
  • Housing providers cannot set any specific rules asking you to keep your ESA in a specific section of the property. For example, they can’t require that your ESA stays outside. 
  • Landlords also cannot charge pet rent or damage deposits or fees unless your animal actually causes damage to the rental property. 

However, there are other restrictions on ESAs that apply to some rental properties:

  • A landlord can ask for an ESA letter to confirm that the person has an emotional or mental disability and needs an emotional support animal. 
  • If the building has a no-pet policy or other restrictions, the landlord may ask if other residents have pet allergies or fears. However, they cannot deny accommodation just because someone else objects to having an animal nearby. The landlord must find a way to accommodate both parties. 
  • Landlords can evict tenants that engage in illegal activity that affects others’ health and safety, such as keeping dangerous emotional support animals.

Do I Have To Tell My Landlord About My Emotional Support Animal?

We recommend that you tell your landlord about your emotional support animal. It’s always better to disclose that kind of information upfront. That way, there are no surprises later on down the road. 

If you plan to get an emotional support animal and have not yet told your landlord about your emotional assistance animal, now is the time to do so. If you do not tell them before getting an ESA letter, they may want to evict you for having an illegal pet in the rental property. 

However, if you have an ESA letter, your landlord can’t evict you. That’s why it’s very important to tell the landlord about your emotional assistance animal the moment you apply for a rental apartment or house. 

It is also an excellent idea to remind them when you move in. When you inform the landlord of your emotional support animal right from the start–either in writing or verbally–you are avoiding a potentially tense situation. 

Plus, the landlord has the right to know that you have an ESA, so they can make reasonable accommodations for your assistance animal. You should provide your landlord with your ESA Letter for Housing, which is a legal document written by a licensed mental health professional. If you do not provide it, your landlord has the right to request it. 

Still, your landlord cannot deny you reasonable accommodation based on your disability and emotional support animal. Most landlords are happy to abide by these federal laws and understand the importance of emotional support animals. 

How To Get An ESA Letter with ESAPetHow To Get An ESA Letter with ESAPet

The only way to ensure the process goes smoothly is to get an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. You can search online for a medical professional who specializes in emotional support animals or you can also ask your primary care physician for their recommendation. However, this route can be quite time-consuming. 

ESAPet is one of the best options to help you with the process of getting a valid ESA Letter for Housing. Here’s how to do so in a few basic steps: 

Step 1: Get a free online assessment

After you have identified that an emotional assistance animal would be beneficial for your mental health, you can complete a short and confidential 2-minute assessment on ESAPet’s website. This form will ask you a few basic questions and help you find a licensed mental health professional that can provide you with an emotional support animal letter. Luckily, this questionnaire is 100% free to complete. 

Get an ESA Letter Screening 

Step 2: Consult with a medical professional 

Next, you will meet with a licensed mental health professional to discuss your needs and how an emotional support dog might benefit you. The medical expert will ask you questions to confirm whether or not an emotional support animal is a necessary course of treatment for your disability. All of the medical professionals in ESAPet’s network of experts are qualified to write a letter stating that you need an emotional support animal for your disability.

Step 3: Get your ESA letter

After your licensed therapist completes a medical evaluation and confirms their recommendation for you to have an ESA, you will get a legitimate ESA letter. This serves as proof that you have a diagnosable disability where having an emotional support animal would be beneficial to your health and well-being. This is also when you will pay for the services rendered by the licensed mental health professionals and get your ESA letter.

Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

An ESA can help people with various emotional issues, from depression and anxiety to PTSD and autism. 

For example, ESAs are known to reduce anxiety and stress in emotional support animal owners. They provide support and loyalty, which is essential for anyone who has social anxiety or feels lonely. With the help of assistance animals, owners can feel more comfortable in social situations and enjoy life more knowing that their pets are by their side. 

ESAs can be part of a treatment plan for those suffering from anxiety, PTSD, and other mental and emotional disabilities. They also provide companionship, comfort, safety, and protection against phobias and panic attacks. 

An ESA may also help people with other physical disabilities like arthritis or chronic pain. Some people use ESAs as a form of therapy themselves, while others use them to help their children who have medical conditions.

Loyalty and Companionship

The truth is that all animals are devoted to whomever they see as their leader. You give them food, shelter, and all the other essentials of life. So, while some species are more affectionate and willing to comfort their pet parents, all are capable of loyalty and companionship. That bond between humans and their pets provides key therapeutic benefits like affection, companionship, and protection.

Helps With Trauma

Traumatic experiences can leave a person feeling isolated and alone. ESAs can help restore a sense of normalcy to those affected by trauma by providing unconditional love and affection. This helps to reduce stress levels and promote healing in the body, mind, and spirit.

Dogs are especially great therapy animals for those who have PTSD. The simple act of petting an animal can lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and increase serotonin levels in the brain. These benefits can help people cope with their trauma symptoms by feeling more relaxed and secure in social situations.

Faster Rehabilitation

ESAs can speed up the rehabilitation process for those injured in an accident, or even those that suffer from a debilitating illness such as cancer or heart disease. During the recovery period, your emotional support dog can provide a source of comfort that you cannot find elsewhere.

Having an emotional support animal by your side during rehabilitation can help you get back on your feet faster. They can remind you of the good in the world and that things will get better again eventually. This company can help you get through some of the most challenging days, even when it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Improves Mental Health

People who have mental illness may find it challenging to partake in everyday life. They have trouble holding down jobs, maintaining relationships, and performing daily tasks. Having an assistance animal by your side while going through therapy, helps you cope with your condition. 

An assistance animal is an effective treatment for those who suffer from various types of mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. ESAs can help alleviate feelings of inadequacy or suicidal thoughts by simply being there for you when you need them most.

Overall, having a pet is a great way to improve your mental health. Studies have shown that people who own pets have lower rates of depression and anxiety than those who don’t have pets. Additionally, people with ESAs report lower stress levels and improved quality of life than those without ESAs.

Emotional Support Animal vs Service Dog

Emotional support animals are sometimes confused with service animals, even though there are key differences between the two. For example, service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks or do work for individuals with disabilities. Unlike service animals, ESAs don’t need to be trained or certified. 

How to Qualify for an ESA?

If your ESA can alleviate one or more of the symptoms caused by your mental or emotional issue, then you will most likely qualify for an emotional support animal. Here are some of the common mental health disorders that an ESA can help with:

 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Severe grief
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Certain Phobias 

 

Here are some of the symptoms emotional support animals may alleviate:

 

  • Fewer panic attacks
  • Lowering chronic pain
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Reducing stress levels and blood pressure
  • Alleviating loneliness
  • Promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Reducing depression and sadness
  • Etc. 

However, there are some requirements to qualify for an emotional service animal:

  • The animal must live with the individual who needs support.
  • The individual must have a diagnosable disability and obtain proper documentation from a mental health professional or medical provider.
  • The assistance animal must provide a benefit for the emotional support animal owner and not cause harm or liability to others.

What to Consider When Getting an Emotional Support Animal?

If you have a disability, an emotional support animal could be a great addition to your life. These animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and help with feelings of depression. Before adopting or purchasing a pet, however, it’s important to consider how much time and effort is required to take care of the animal.

First, you should also make sure that you can afford it. The cost of veterinary care for vaccinations, spaying/neutering, prescription meds, emergency visits, etc., can add up quickly. Other core costs include food, toys, leashes, collars, and more. If you can’t afford the costs of owning a pet, it’s not a good idea to get one.

Next, you should consider the time commitment. Pets require care, love, and affection. You will likely need to spend a good chunk of the day ensuring all their needs are being met.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some ESA Owner Rights Under the Fair Housing Act? 

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), your landlord cannot deny you reasonable accommodation because of your ESA. This federal law outlaws discrimination based on disability. The law protects you and allows you to keep your ESA in rentals or public spaces.

Can My Landlord Resist Accommodations For My ESA?

No. The law requires landlords to accommodate tenants with disabilities under fair housing laws. While some may resist your intentions behind getting an ESA, they still have to follow the federal guidelines for emotional support animals. This is true even if your landlord has a no-pet policy in their rental building. However, it doesn’t hurt to inform your landlord about your ESA.

What Are Emotional Support Animals Considered Under the FHA?

An emotional support animal is not considered a pet under the FHA. If a landlord does not allow pets on their property, they must make an exception for ESAs. Even if your landlord says that there is a no-pet policy in place, your emotional support animal is still allowed to live with you.

Get Your ESA Letter Today

An emotional support animal can be a lifesaver for those with mental health issues that struggle day-to-day. They can help reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. They provide unconditional love and companionship for those who have a mental illness. 

Visit ESAPet.com to get your ESA letter today.

ESA Pet Staff