The short answer: You can inform your landlord you want to live with an emotional support animal by giving them an ESA letter. You do not need to submit any other forms, though you can send the ESA letter together with a simple cover message if you wish. If you’re comfortable with the prospect, you can first preview your request with a short conversation.
The concern: Many new ESA owners are understandably anxious to inform their landlords about their emotional support animal. That’s especially true if they live in a building that doesn’t allow pets or previously signed a lease that stipulated no pets.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that landlords are obligated to accommodate ESAs under federal and state law. ESA and service dog laws protect people with disabilities from discrimination.
Assistance animal owners need their animals in order to live healthy, happy lives, and limiting their ability to do that would amount to discrimination based on health status.
Here are some tips for telling your landlord you have an ESA: 🏡
- Preview your ESA with a quick talk. If you’re comfortable talking to your landlord, it can help to first have a quick discussion before sending your ESA letter. Your landlord may appreciate the heads up and be more receptive to your ESA letter if they’re aware it’s coming.
- Send your ESA letter via email. HUD advises tenants to keep a copy of their ESA request in case there’s a dispute later. Communication by email ensures there is a digital trail evidencing when you sent your request.
- If you want, include a cover message. If you wish, you can send your ESA letter with a brief cover note in your email. Below is an example of a cover message you can include.
When sending your ESA request, be friendly but firm. If you have a valid ESA letter, you can proceed confidently, knowing you have rights under housing laws. Most ESA owners who are nervous about sending an ESA letter find the process easier than expected.
Most landlords are more than happy to accept emotional support animals, especially when the tenant has done the right thing and included a legitimate ESA letter with their request.
Having an ESA is beneficial for your mental health, and, in most cases, accepted by landlords — provided you have a legitimate ESA letter issued by a licensed health professional.
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