If you’re trying to qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA) or just want to learn more about the process, the information online can become overwhelming. As ESAs are more accepted, countless online ESA companies have popped up overnight. How do you know which ones you can trust and which ones are just looking to cash in?

An ESA letter provides protection for perhaps the most important asset you have in your battle with mental health issues: your loyal animal companion. Having a legitimate ESA letter can mean the difference between living with your ESA in your home versus being banned because of the building’s no-pets policies. 

In this article, we’ll advise you on what to look out for to make sure you are not scammed by a fake ESA qualification service and how to find a reputable provider.

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What is an ESA letter, and why do I need one?

First, let’s start with the basics. Under federal and state rules, housing providers like landlords, co-ops, and HOAs must reasonably accommodate emotional support animals. They don’t have to just take your word that you have an ESA; in fact, they can request documentation to validate an emotional support animal. 

That documentation comes in the form of a recommendation letter written by a licensed health care professional. There is no other way to legitimately qualify for an ESA, which is why it is so important to have a proper ESA letter.

An ESA is an animal companion that provides support through companionship and helps ease symptoms of mental health conditions. Although all pets offer an emotional connection with their owner, to be legally considered an ESA, the animal needs to be recommended by a licensed healthcare professional. 

If you have a disability such as severe depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you might qualify for an ESA letter. But it is up to a licensed healthcare professional to make that determination. A therapist or other licensed professional can assess whether you have a mental or emotional disability that the companionship of an ESA can help. 

If you meet the relevant criteria, the healthcare professional will give you a signed ESA letter you can submit to your landlord, HOA, co-op, or building manager. 

An ESA letter gives you significant benefits, including the following:

  1. The ability to live in no-pets buildings. 
  2. Exemption from pet fees, deposits, and pet application fees. 
  3. Exemption from pet size and weight restrictions.
  4. Exemption from pet breed restrictions. 
  5. Protection from discriminatory practices. 
Emotional support animals can help ease symptoms of mental illness.
Emotional support animals can help ease symptoms of mental illness.

How to spot an online ESA letter scam

The team at ESA Doctors all too often sees clients turn to us after being scammed into buying fake ESA documentation from other sources. We pride ourselves on being advocates for ESA owners and people suffering from mental illnesses. ESA Doctors is passionate about ESA rights and believes in the power of ESAs to help people in profound ways. We are heartbroken when we see individuals in need get taken advantage of by online scammers.

As the popularity of ESAs has increased, an unfortunate reaction has been a rise in scam websites promising fake documentation. Before you submit an order to an online ESA company, make sure you look out for these seven red flags:

  1. The site claims to provide ESA registration

    One common misconception about ESAs is that they need to be “registered.” That is not true! There is no legal requirement to register an ESA, and HUD warns against it. A registration number will not qualify your pet as an emotional support animal.

  2. The site claims to “certify” your ESA with a certification process

    There is no official “certification” program that properly qualifies emotional support animals. Registrations and certifications are not acceptable forms of documentation to prove your animal companion is an ESA. You must have an ESA letter!

  3. The promise of instant turnaround

    An ESA letter cannot be issued automatically. You must work with a healthcare professional who is licensed for your state. The professional will assess your condition and determine whether an ESA is appropriate for you.

  4. The letter is not written by a licensed professional or there is no contact information in the letter

    Your ESA letter will not be recognized if it is not written by a qualified licensed healthcare professional, including psychologists, LMFTs, social workers, registered nurses, physician’s assistants, doctors, and counselors. The licensed professional should sign the letter and include their contact and license information.

  5. The healthcare professional is not properly licensed

    Your healthcare professional must be actively licensed to help you. ESA Doctors matches you with professionals who are licensed for your state of residence.

  6. The promise of cheap rates

    As the old adage goes: you get what you pay for. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. The help of an actual licensed mental health professional is never bargain-basement cheap.

  7. There is no client support

    The ESA approval process does not just end with the ESA letter. Landlords can sometimes be reluctant to accommodate ESAs, even with a valid letter. They may also demand additional information and documentation. ESA Doctors provides client support throughout the process and optional services to handle any additional document requests that may come in.

Who can I trust online to qualify for an ESA letter?

Trust - ESA Doctors
You can trust that ESA Doctors will have your back! Connect with a real licensed mental health professional online.

Before you choose an online ESA service, make sure to do your research and ensure the service adheres to appropriate guidelines for ESA letters. Save yourself the experience of a nightmare scenario where your landlord notifies you that your ESA letter is invalid. 

ESA Doctors was established in 2015 because we found that too many people did not have access to a therapist or were working with a therapist that was unfamiliar with the benefits of ESAs. Many people in need also can’t afford in-person services. Others are too busy to schedule on-site therapy sessions due to work, family, or school obligations. And others have anxieties about discussing their problems face-to-face with a therapist.

The licensed healthcare professionals we work with offer their services remotely, allowing you to get help conveniently from the comforts of your home. We think you won’t find a better ESA service provider. But don’t just take our word for it — our happy clients leave us verified 5-star reviews, and we are also one of the few ESA service providers fully BBB accredited with an A-rating

To get started on your ESA journey, just click on the link below.

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Click here to get started on qualifying for your ESA letter.

But wait, are ESA letters obtained online valid?

One common question is whether an ESA letter obtained through an online healthcare professional is valid as one obtained in person. The answer is yes, healthcare professionals are allowed to provide ESA services remotely, but you should make sure they are licensed for your state and capable of writing an ESA letter. Not all healthcare professionals are familiar with emotional support animals or willing to write an ESA letter on your behalf. 

The U.S. Department of Housing has acknowledged that licensed professionals can provide remote online services concerning ESA recommendations. Remote services from a therapist are becoming an increasingly popular and convenient way to find professional help.

If you’re interested in qualifying for an ESA, don’t hesitate—an ESA can change everything. Reach out today by completing the questionnaire at the link below and get the help you deserve. 

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