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Does an ESA Letter Expire? Discover the Truth About ESA Letters

Does an ESA Letter Expire
Updated on February 19, 2024
Written by Brenda Mejia

fact checked by Andre Gregatti

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters are essential for those dealing with mental health issues, as these furry friends offer a level of support beyond what traditional therapy can provide. These documents are not just administrative formalities but pivotal in facilitating a supportive environment for those facing psychological challenges.

The uncertainty surrounding the expiration of ESA letters brings concerns for their holders. To address this, we aim to explain the renewal process and how long these letters remain valid, ensuring those relying on their ESAs continue to receive the support they need without interruption. Let’s find out.

Understanding ESA Letters

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters represent a critical aspect of mental health support, serving as formal endorsements from mental health professionals for the presence of an ESA in an individual’s life. 

These letters, written by licensed mental health professionals, confirm the importance of an ESA in managing conditions like ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. They bridge the gap between conventional treatment methods and the holistic well-being approach, recognizing the therapeutic impact of ESAs on emotional, psychiatrical and psychological health.

The value of an ESA letter lies in its ability to legitimize the therapeutic relationship between an individual and their animal companion. It grants legal standing to ESAs, differentiating them from pets in the eyes of the law and allowing for accommodations in housing and travel situations where animals are typically not allowed. 

This legal acknowledgment ensures that individuals can keep their emotional support animals by their side, where they can most effectively provide comfort and stability.

Expiration of ESA Letters

ESA letters are essential for individuals relying on Emotional Support Animals, typically valid for one year. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) doesn’t set a fixed expiration for these letters in housing scenarios, but annual renewal is strongly recommended. 

This practice aligns with landlords’ and housing providers’ expectations, who usually prefer current ESA documentation when reviewing accommodation requests. Renewing your Emotional Support Animal letters yearly ensures uninterrupted support and smooth housing arrangements for you and your ESA, reflecting the continued necessity of your support animal.

Importance of Renewal

Renewing your yearly ESA letter is crucial for keeping your legal rights and making housing easier. This isn’t a legal must, but it’s practical. 

It ensures you and your ESA can live together without issues, as landlords often look for up-to-date letters. This yearly update helps avoid problems and keeps everything running smoothly with your housing situation.

Remember: Keeping your ESA letter fresh every year helps everything go smoothly where you live and keeps your support animal by your side.

Renewal Process

Renewing your ESA letter is a straightforward process that ensures you continue to enjoy the benefits of living and traveling with your emotional support animal. 

The first step involves consulting with a licensed mental health professional, just like when you obtained your original ESA letter. This consultation is crucial to assess your current mental health needs and determine if your ESA’s continued companionship is recommended as part of your treatment plan.

For those who initially received their Emotional Support Animal letter from another provider, options are available to obtain a new letter. ESA Pet offer services to connect you with licensed professionals who can issue a renewed letter after properly assessing your needs.

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How Long Does It Take to Renew an ESA Letter?

The process for renewing an ESA letter is streamlined for convenience, as ESA Pet provides renewals within 24-48 hours after a consultation. This quick turnaround is crucial for maintaining continuous ESA support. 

To ensure no interruptions in your ESA’s status, it’s wise to begin the renewal process ahead of your current letter’s expiration, facilitating a smooth and timely continuation of your ESA’s recognition.

Can I Renew My ESA Letter Online?

Yes, you can renew your ESA letter online. ESA Pet lets you to schedule a consultation and receive your renewed letter digitally, ensuring a straightforward renewal process.

Qualifying Conditions for ESA Letters

Individuals can qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter if they have a diagnosed mental health condition that significantly impacts their daily lives. Healthcare professionals recognize these conditions and include:

  • Depression: This goes beyond occasional sadness to a deep, persistent condition that affects everyday functioning. An ESA can provide a comforting presence, helping alleviate feelings of despair.
  • Anxiety Disorders: This includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks, and other forms of anxiety that can make daily tasks feel insurmountable. The companionship of an ESA can offer a calming effect during stressful times.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): For those who have experienced traumatic events, PTSD can make it difficult to feel safe. An ESA’s consistent presence can offer reassurance and support.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do specific actions (compulsions). An ESA can provide stability and comfort, helping to interrupt the cycle of compulsive behaviors and thoughts.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition involves an intense fear of social situations and being judged or negatively evaluated by others. The presence of an ESA can offer individuals a sense of safety and support in social settings, easing the stress associated with social interactions.

Landlord Requirements and ESA Letters

Landlords might ask for updated ESA letters for a few reasons. They want to ensure that the request for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) aligns with current guidelines and that the tenant still requires the ESA for their mental or emotional disability health. 

It’s within a landlord’s rights to verify an ESA letter, as long as it’s done respectfully and adheres to privacy laws. This verification often involves checking the letter’s validity, which should be on the professional letterhead of a licensed mental health professional.

For tenants, managing these requirements means being prepared with up-to-date documentation. Here’s how you can smoothly handle landlord requests:

  1. Keep Your ESA Letter Current: Make sure your ESA letter is renewed annually. This not only aids in compliance but also reflects your ongoing need for an ESA.
  2. Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which protects your right to live with an ESA. Knowing your rights can help you communicate more effectively with your landlord.
  3. Communicate Openly: Be open and respectful when discussing your ESA with your landlord. Provide the necessary documentation promptly and ensure it includes all required information.

Take Note

Always ensure your ESA letter is from a reputable source and clearly states your need for an ESA as part of your mental health treatment.

Keeping open lines of communication with your landlord and being proactive with your documentation can significantly ease the process for both you and your landlord.

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Can a Landlord Ask for a New ESA Letter?

Yes, a landlord can request a new Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter to ensure it’s current, as an outdated ESA letter may not be considered valid under Fair Housing rules. This helps landlords confirm the ongoing need for an ESA without too much intruding into the tenant’s privacy.

What if My ESA Letter Is Rejected for Being Expired?

Obtaining a renewed letter from a licensed healthcare professional is essential if your ESA letter is rejected due to expiration. The validity of an ESA letter is crucial for ensuring that the rights of individuals requiring an ESA are respected and upheld.

Can I Qualify for an ESA Letter if I Have a Different Mental Health Condition Now?

If your mental health condition has changed, you can still qualify for an ESA letter. The critical factor is the current assessment by a licensed healthcare professional who can determine your need for an ESA based on your condition.

Can I Use an Expired ESA Letter for Housing or Travel?

Most entities require a valid, up-to-date letter to accommodate an ESA. An expired letter might not be accepted, leading to complications or denial of housing privileges for your ESA.

Since 2021, airlines are not required to accommodate ESAs, according to a revision in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Therefore, using ESA letters for travel is not advisable.

Are There Any Fees Associated With Renewing an ESA Letter?

Yes, there might be fees associated with renewing an ESA letter. These fees can vary depending on the healthcare professional or service providing the letter. It’s important to check with the issuer of your original ESA letter regarding the renewal cost.

Can I Get an ESA Letter if I Don’t Have a Therapist?

Yes, you can obtain an ESA letter without having a therapist by contacting a licensed mental health professional authorized to assess your need for an ESA and issue letters. This includes professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, or other mental health specialists.


Remember, your ESA letter has a shelf life of one year. Staying informed and proactive about renewing your ESA letter is critical. This step is crucial for keeping the special bond with your ESA uninterrupted, ensuring you both can continue to navigate daily life together smoothly.

Always contact a licensed mental health professional for the most accurate advice and guidance on renewing your ESA letter. They’re there to support you through the process, offering personalized help to ensure your ESA remains legally and loving by your side.

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