The role of an animal in some people’s lives is going above and beyond being “just a pet.” Animals that provide comfort and support to an emotionally or mentally challenged individual are now being viewed as a necessity. And with that fact, these dogs, cats and other animals could fall under the title of an emotional support animal.
Let’s explore the rights of emotional support animals in New York. If you believe that you may qualify for an emotional support animal, please complete the questionnaire in the link below. ESA Doctors will connect you with a New York licensed therapist to assist you with your New York ESA letter.
What Qualifies As a Disability in New York?
The law in New York to be considered disabled is similar to the rest of the United States as they view being disabled as being substantially limited in a major life activity. If your depression and anxiety makes it hard for you to live a normal life, you may qualify for an ESA.
Examples of mental disabilities may include;
- Fears and Phobias
- Panic Attacks
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- And more
Flying With an Emotional Support Animal from New York
The Air Carrier Access Act allows ESA owners to travel with their emotional support animals. Airlines cannot charge ESA owners additional pet fees for flying with emotional support animals. Your ESA must be well-behaved and fit within the guidelines of your airline. Your ESA must be in control at all times and cannot be a danger to other passengers.
Laguardia Airport and JFK Airport are both accessible to emotional support animals. You will need to submit your ESA letter prior to arriving at the airport. Each airline may require documents in addition to an ESA letter. To find your airline’s ESA policy, follow the link here: https://esadoctors.com/airline-emotional-support-animal-pet-policies/.
Emotional Support Animals in New York Apartments and Co-Ops
Under New York law, if you are emotionally or mentally disabled you do have the right to own an Emotional Support Animal in a rental unit, or “no pet” policy apartment buildings and Co-Ops. However, there are a couple of points to keep in mind.
A landlord must make reasonable accommodation for the emotional support animal if;
- You have a disability and meet the other requirements such as income and credit history
- You are reasonable in the choice of emotional support animal you want to keep (no horses in apartments)
- The animal assists you in living a normal life (helps with depression, anxiety, etc.)
The landlord or Co-Op can deny you housing with your ESA if your animal causes damage to the property, is noisy, or harms the other tenants. In those situations, the landlord’s interest in safely maintaining the property would outweigh the tenant’s interest in having the objectionable pet.
How to Apply for Housing With An ESA
When dealing with rental units in New York City, it’s always best to have your ESA letter on hand before you even get the emotional support animal. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of being evicted.
When making a request, you must present your ESA letter to your landlord. Your ESA letter must be from a New York licensed therapist and written on the therapist’s official letterhead. If your landlord requires additional forms, make sure to have your therapist complete the forms for you. Some landlords may request private medical information, but you are NOT required to share any of this information if you do not feel comfortable. Landlords cannot require you to divulge private medical information.
It is also recommended to keep copies of all the letters and send them by either email or certified mail with a return receipt so that you have a record. Remember, you can submit your ESA letter before or after you sign your lease.
- Apply for housing
- Let your landlord know that you have an ESA
- Submit your ESA letter from a NY licensed therapist
- Complete any additional documents from your landlord
Your ESA letter should include the following information;
- Your full name
- Therapist’s license information
- Therapist’s contact information
- ESA letter must be written on official letterhead
What Can I Do If My Request is Denied?
If your landlord denies your request, you can contact the New York State Division of Human Rights or the HUD. These agencies can both assist you in filing a complaint. After the complaint is filed, the agency will investigate the situation. If the agency finds that you have been wrongly denied the rental unit, it will hold an administrative hearing, which can result in a decision that your landlord must allow you to have an emotional support animal.
New York ESA’s and the Workplace
Although Service Dogs are protected under Federal law, emotional support animals in the workplace are not wholly defined. As when applying for a rental unit, having a letter from your mental health professional stating your need for the ESA will go a long way. However, because the law is a bit blurry and open to interpretation in New York, your employer could still deny your ESA access to the building.
If you’re a New Yorker and think you could benefit from an Emotional Support Animal, then be sure to ask your doctor for a letter. If you do not have access to a doctor/therapist, you may connect with one online via ESA Doctors. Having this official letter could help you secure your apartment or rental unit in a no pets policy building.
Complete the ESA questionnaire to qualify:
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