Emotional support animals are animals that are trained to assist an individual with a mental disability, anxiety, depression, or other emotional disorders. These animals are also called companion animals or therapy animals. People who have a certain condition, such as common severe panic attacks, may use a therapy animal to assist them in coping with their condition. A therapy animal is usually a dog or cat, but can also be a bird, rabbit, or other small animal.
It’s important to note that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals, although both count as assistance animals. A service animal is trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with a disability. These animals usually must go through a rigorous training and certification process. Meanwhile, an emotional support animal is not trained to behave in a specific way. The handler of an emotional support animal, however, may have to provide proof that the animal is needed for the individual’s disability.
If you are considering getting an emotional support animal, you may be wondering if you can have them live at your home. Some people find comfort in being able to see their emotional support animal first thing in the morning. This article will detail the housing rights and a landlord’s responsibilities towards emotional support animals.
Can Your ESAs Live With You?
Under the Fair Housing laws, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. This means that landlords cannot deny you the right to have an emotional support animal with you at your living premises. Similarly, landlords may not charge a pet deposit for emotional support animals.
This is because emotional support animals are considered assistance animals. They are considered a bigger necessity to a person’s mental well-being compared to a regular pet. If you think your landlord is discriminating against you based on your disabilities and your needs to have an emotional support animal, then this is a violation of your rights. You’d be able to file a complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing.
The Limits of ESA Housing Rights
In order for your pet to be considered an emotional support animal, you need to have a valid ESA letter. An ESA letter is issued by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) and can be used to verify that your pet can actually provide you with emotional support. Your LMHP will assess your condition and give their professional prescription on whether or not you actually need an ESA.
While an ESA letter can be useful in the housing process, it doesn’t give you complete legal rights. Your landlord still has the right to ask you to remove your ESA animal from the premises if they are causing any problems or if it’s too disruptive. Landlords only need to give you leeway so long as they only need to provide reasonable accommodations. So, make sure your animal can remain well-behaved and non-aggressive, but that it can also fit in the living environment.
TomTom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!
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