Emotional support animals (ESAs) are becoming more and more common. Many people find it beneficial to own an ESA to help them cope with a mental or physical disability.
But what are ESAs? Can they be allowed to stay at home with you? Some people wonder if it’s mandatory to always let landlords know that you own an ESA. The truth is, there are many considerations to take into account before bringing an ESA into your home.
What is an ESA?
An emotional support animal is any pet that provides emotional support for its owner. In some cases, the animal provides other types of support as well, such as companionship and comfort. ESAs can be cats, dogs, or even exotic animals such as turtles or snakes.
Some people who have anxiety find that having a dog or cat that they can cuddle with during the night reduces their anxiety levels. Others who may benefit from owning one include those who have PTSD, depression, or who have mobility issues.
ESAs should not be confused with service animals. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for their owners, such as guiding the blind or alerting the deaf. Emotional support animals are not trained and do not perform any specific task.
What are an ESA’s Housing Rights?
The main benefit of owning an emotional support animal compared to a regular pet is that they can live in the same home as their owner in cases where they otherwise would not have been allowed. This means that in some cases, you can even bypass an apartment complex’s no-pet policy. This is because emotional support animals are considered a necessity to someone’s health and well-being. In this case, however, you must always disclose the fact that you have an ESA to your landlord.
Because ESAs are protected under the federal Fair Housing laws, landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone with an ESA. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when living with an ESA.
Do You Have to Let Your Landlord Know About Your ESA?
It is highly recommended that you inform your landlord of your ESA as soon as you move in. It is even better to discuss with them about owning an emotional support animal before you sign the lease. This will help you maintain a good relationship with your landlord. Holding back until the last minute to let them know of your pet may cause them to feel misled, which could lead to you having problems.
A landlord will normally ask for documentation that the animal is required for your health and safety, for one. This is called an ESA letter. An ESA letter can only be given by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). It will detail your ESA’s duties and responsibilities, as well as how the animal helps you. This letter will also state that your disability is valid and that owning an emotional support animal will truly help in your condition. You can then hand over a copy of this letter to your landlord.