How to get an ESA Letter For Housing?
Most people treat their pets like valued members of the family. Pets provide us with companionship, give us unconditional love, and bring joy to our lives. We do everything possible to ensure their well-being, and they do the same for us.
While a loyal companion most definitely brings us joy and happiness, the health benefits are far more vast. For example, many pets are registered as emotional support animals (ESAs) and help to reduce the effects of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. For those with mental health concerns, an emotional support animal can serve as a vital lifeline.
It can be devastating to learn that a landlord has a strict no-pet policy or an airline does not accommodate emotional support animals. Luckily, a valid ESA letter affords you and your emotional support animal certain protections for housing, travel, and more.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about ESA letters for housing.
ESA Letters For Housing
An ESA letter is a legal document issued by a licensed mental health professional. It serves as proof that your pet is registered as an emotional support animal and helps you cope with an emotional or mental condition.
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), an emotional support letter for housing guarantees that your ESA can live with you, regardless of any pet policies or fees set forth by the housing provider. The ESA letter shows that you have a mental or emotional disability and your emotional support animal is a part of your treatment plan.
An ESA letter for housing is the only proof you need under the Fair Housing Act. As long as the letter was prescribed by a mental health professional licensed in your state, the housing provider cannot deny your request to live with an emotional support animal. However, landlords and property managers do have a right to request this evidence before permitting accommodations for your emotional support animal.
It’s important to note that your ESA letter for housing should be renewed annually. Housing providers can request an updated letter every year. Plus, showing up with an emotional support letter that is several years old may raise some suspicions.
ESA Letters for Housing and The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that protects buyers and renters from discrimination on the basis of disability. It defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual’s ability to enjoy one or more life activities.
In the past, many landlords and property managers were hesitant to approve a tenant that requested accommodations for their emotional support animal. These tenants were often denied such requests due to the strict no-pet policies put in place by the housing provider.
The Fair Housing Act helped to advance housing opportunities in recent years and now plays an instrumental role in helping individuals with emotional support animals find appropriate housing.
The legislation requires that landlords, property managers, and all housing providers provide reasonable accommodations to those with emotional support pets. Even if the building has strict no-pets policies, the housing provider must accept the emotional support animal and cannot charge any additional fees for permitting the ESA.
Animals Eligible For an ESA Letter For housing
When it comes to emotional support pets and housing, there are some exceptions that you should know about.
Simply put, not all animals qualify as emotional support animals under the FHA. According to the US Department of Housing, only domestic animals are eligible to become emotional support pets or emotional support animals. Exotic animals do not meet the requirements necessary.
Common types of emotional support animals include dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, hamsters, rabbits, and other small animals. For ESAs that are considered more unique, like birds and rabbits, the housing provider may ask for additional documentation to ensure the animal is well-behaved and well-trained.
Who Can Provide An ESA Letter For Housing?
A legitimate ESA letter for housing must be issued by a qualified healthcare professional that is licensed in your state. For example:
- Primary care physician
- Social worker
If you want to expedite the process and get an ESA letter for housing quickly, work with a reputable ESA letter provider like ESAPet.
ESAPEt’s network of licensed mental health professionals can get you an ESA letter for housing as soon as possible.
Qualifying Conditions For an ESA Letter For Housing
To qualify for an ESA letter for housing, you must be diagnosed with a mental or emotional disability by a licensed mental health professional, and the emotional support animal must be part of your treatment plan.
There are numerous emotional and mental conditions that may make you eligible for an emotional support animal. Some of them include:
- Social anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
- Bulimia or anorexia
- Attention deficit disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Certain phobias
You will need to have a consultation with a licensed mental health professional who will evaluate your emotional or mental struggles. Following the evaluation, the medical professional will “prescribe” an emotional support animal. This will then be your ticket to getting an ESA letter for housing.
How to Get an ESA Letter for Housing
Getting an emotional support animal letter for housing is fairly simple. It only entails a few simple steps. Here’s how it works:
Choose an ESA Letter Provider
Several companies offer legitimate ESA letters for animals online. At ESAPet.com, we pride ourselves on being one of the most reputable ESA letter providers in the United States.
We work with a large network of doctors that can issue valid ESA letters. These medical professionals offer telemedicine consultations, which make the process extremely fast, easy, and convenient.
ESAPet also promises to help you get an ESA letter for housing within 48 hours after you’re approved by a licensed mental health expert.
Free Pre-Screening Online Assessment
Before you can get your ESA letter for housing, you must first complete an evaluation to determine if you are a good candidate. This free pre-screening online assessment is completely safe, secure, and confidential.
At ESAPET.com, our pre-screening process takes less than three minutes. There are a few simple questions that ask about your pet and mental health. They also help us match you with a therapist.
Consult With a Medical Professional
If you are a good candidate for an emotional support animal, we will match you with a suitable mental health professional in your state for a live consultation. The evaluation is done completely online, so you don’t have to leave your house to get an appointment.
During the consultation, you will discuss your mental health condition with licensed mental health experts. They will then diagnose your mental or emotional disability and determine whether you need an emotional support animal. Upon approval, they will issue an ESA letter for housing.
Receive Your ESA Letter
If you are eligible for an emotional support pet, the mental health expert will issue an ESA letter and sign it.
With ESAPet.com, you can get your ESA letter within 48 hours after your evaluation. We can provide you with a digital copy of the letter or a hard copy upon request.
Legitimate ESA Letter for Housing
After you get the ESA letter, you must check to ensure that all the details are accurate. Some of the information that must be present in an ESA letter for housing include:
- The provider’s letterhead, their contact information, and their license number
- The tenant’s name (i.e. your name)
- The type of emotional support animal that you need
- Date and signature of the licensed mental health professional
This letter shows the landlord or property manager that you have a legitimate need for an emotional support animal.
It will indicate that you have an impairment limiting you from enjoying at least one major life activity. It will also prove your need for an emotional support animal to help relieve the symptoms of the condition.
What’s Not Needed in an ESA Letter for Housing
Now that you have an idea of what must be present in an ESA letter for housing, you should also know some of the things that don’t need to be in the letter.
As a tenant, you have a right to confidentiality. This is especially true when it comes to the specific nature of the condition that qualifies you for an emotional support animal. In other words, you don’t have to provide any details of the mental or emotional disability that you may be suffering from.
Furthermore, landlords do not have the right to ask for specific details about your condition, according to federal and state laws. They cannot request any medical records or additional documentation beyond the ESA letter. Landlords can only call the healthcare provider listed on the letter to verify its legitimacy.
Due to these protections, an ESA letter for housing will not disclose any details about your condition. While the letter may appear generic and impersonal, this is for your privacy.
ESA Letters For Housing – Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a brief look at some of the questions that frequently come up regarding ESA letters for housing:
Where Can I Use an ESA Letter for Housing?
There are many places where you can use ESA letters for housing, including rental homes, apartments, condos, co-ops, and more.
Those living in rentals are able to keep their emotional support animal, even in places with strict no-pet policies. None of these rules or regulations apply to holders of an official ESA letter issued by a certified medical professional.
When Should I Tell My Housing Provider About My Emotional Support Animal?
You can inform the landlord or housing provider about your emotional support animal before or after you move into the rental building.
You do not have any legal obligations to disclose your emotional support animal in advance, but it may avoid complications down the road.
Can a Landlord Kick Me Out Because I Have an Emotional Support Animal?
No. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers cannot deny an ESA letter for housing. If you submit a legitimate ESA letter to your landlord, they have a legal obligation to accommodate your emotional support animal.
Can a Landlord Charge Any Fees for My Emotional Support Animal?
No. Emotional support animals are not considered pets according to the Fair Housing Act, which restricts housing providers from imposing certain fees. While your landlord may charge other tenants pet deposits or monthly pet fees, they are not allowed to charge any additional costs for accommodating emotional support animals.
How Long Does My ESA Letter Last?
Federal laws require that an ESA owner renew their ESA letter every year. Technically, an ESA letter that is over one year old is no longer considered valid and may be denied by housing providers and other entities. For this reason, your landlord may request that you renew your ESA letter annually.
Will My Landlord Verify My ESA Letter?
This will vary depending on the landlord and whether they take the time to do their due diligence.
However, all housing providers have the right to reach out to the licensed mental health professional listed on your ESA letter. The professional’s license number and contact information will be made available on the letter.
While they cannot ask about your medical condition, they can ask about the legitimacy of the letter without violating any privacy laws.
Is an ESA the Same as a Service Animal?
No, there are key differences between an emotional support animal and a service animal. ESAs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. They are not required to have any specific training and do not need to perform tasks that help with their owner’s disability.
Service animals, on the other hand, are individually trained to do work or perform tasks directly related to their handler’s disability. For example, guide dogs perform tasks for the blind and visually-impaired.
However, there are no clear distinctions between emotional support animals and service animals mentioned in the Fair Housing Act. This means that all assistance animals are afforded the same protections under the FHA.