Emotional Support Animal Fair Housing Act
An emotional support animal is an animal that provides emotional support to an individual with a disability. Someone who has a disability can use an emotional support animal to live in the community and participate in all of their life activities. An emotional support animal does not require any type of training or certification. It is simply an animal that provides a certain amount of comfort and support to its owner.
It’s good to remember that an emotional support animal and a service animal are not the same. A service animal is trained to perform a specific task for a person with a disability. For example, a service dog is trained to help people who are blind. A service animal is required to have a vest or patch that clearly identifies it as a service animal.
Meanwhile, an emotional support animal does not require any type of training or certification. It is simply an animal that provides a certain amount of comfort and support to its owner. But how do you ensure your animal is applicable for all the laws that grant emotional support animal protection?
What to Prepare: an ESA Letter
First things first, an emotional support animal is considered a type of assistance animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, for a pet to be recognized as an ESA, you’d need to have an ESA letter.
An ESA letter is a document that states that your pet is an emotional support animal. It is issued by a mental health professional who is aware of your medical condition and knows that your animal provides assistance to you. The letter should also contain details about the type of assistance that your animal provides to you, and the extent of your condition.
This letter can cost anywhere between $100 to $200 to make, though one can only be used for twelve months. Afterwards, you’d need to renew it. In addition, you need to get it from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) practicing in the same state you live in.
Housing Rights for ESAs
Once you have your letter, you can enjoy housing rights that allow you to have your ESA with you in public. In other words, you can have your ESA in a residence or other dwelling unit. But what are the rules and regulations?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of housing. The FHA protects people who use assistance animals. This means that the FHA allows people to have emotional support animals with them in their housing premises.
Can You Get Charged Extra or Evicted?
Landlords cannot refuse to rent to you because of your emotional support animal. They cannot require that you pay a deposit or a higher rent for having an ESA. They have to provide you accommodation, so long as it’s within reason.
However, there are certain circumstances where you may be charged extra or evicted. For example, if your ESA is a nuisance or a threat to other tenants, then the landlord can charge you extra. If your ESA is a threat to the health and safety of other tenants, then the landlord can evict you. And finally, if you don’t have an ESA letter with you when applying for housing, then the landlord may refuse to comply with your requests.