An ESA is a medical tool and not a pet. Under Federal Fair Housing Laws, Emotional Support Animals must have access to apartments with a no-pet policy and are exempt from pet-related fees.
Pets that provide people with comfort have unique housing rights. The law refers to these types of pets as Emotional Support Animals. Emotional Support Animals help aid with an emotional or mental disability. An ESA is a medical tool and not a pet. Under Federal Fair Housing Laws, Emotional Support Animals must have access to apartments with a no-pet policy and are exempt from pet-related fees.
If you feel like you may benefit and qualify for an ESA, you may read this article for more information.
If you are ready to qualify for an emotional support animal letter, complete the questionnaire to connect with a licensed mental health professional today.
- FAQ #1 – How do I tell my landlord I have an ESA?
- FAQ #2 – What do I do if my landlord rejects my ESA even after I show them my ESA letter?
- FAQ #3 – Can a landlord reject my ESA because it is too young or too old?
- FAQ #4 – My landlord is requiring me to register my ESA. Can a landlord require ESA registration if I already submitted my ESA letter?
- FAQ #5 – Can a landlord evict me for getting an ESA?
- FAQ #6 – Can a landlord question me about my mental or emotional disability?
- FAQ #7 – When can a landlord legally reject an ESA?
How to Get an ESA Letter to Show my Landlord
In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, you must first have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional or LMHP. The ESA letter lets your landlord know that you need the emotional support animal for your disability and that you qualify under the Fair Housing Act. If you have an ESA letter from a real LMHP, your landlord cannot deny your request or charge you a pet fee and pet deposit.
In order to get your ESA letter to show your landlord, you can either connect with a licensed mental health professional in real life or connect with one online. The LMHP will determine if an emotional support animal will benefit you and provide a written document requesting your ESA to live with you.
To connect with a real licensed mental health professional online, complete the ESA Questionnaire in the “Get Started” link below.
Living with an Emotional Support Dog or Cat – A Guide to Dealing with Difficult Landlords
Although the law is on your side, telling your landlord you have an Emotional Support Animal can be stressful. We will address commonly asked questions and provide tips on how to inform your landlord you have an ESA. Although it may be uncomfortable at first, standing up for your rights is important. Not only for yourself but for other people who may need the support of an ESA.
FAQ #1 – How do I tell my landlord I have an ESA? Especially if the building has a no pet policy or monthly fees/special pet deposit.
Informing your landlord you have an ESA can be more challenging than informing an airline you are traveling with an ESA. The main issue is that many landlords are unaware of ESA regulations.
The first step you should take before informing your landlord about having an ESA is to understand your rights. Landlords may attempt to bully you by requesting sensitive medical records or your medical history. This is not legal and is in violation of Fair Housing standards. You do not need to give in to this pressure. Instead, you should stand up for yourself and other ESA handlers.
From another perspective, your landlord may also simply be unaware of ESA laws. You can take this opportunity to inform them of your rights. This will allow them to better understand your request for reasonable accommodations.
Either way, it is important for you to know your legal rights clearly. You may read more about ESA housing rights by this article – Guide to Renting with an ESA.
To make your pet into an official ESA, you will need an ESA letter from a therapist. This is mandatory, without an ESA letter your pet would not be considered an ESA even if they provide you with comfort. If you are currently seeing a therapist, we recommend that you request an ESA letter from them directly. We would also be happy to pair you with a top animal therapy therapist if your therapist is unaware of ESA laws.
The second step is submitting your ESA letter via email, fax, or in person. This shows that you have the necessary documents for you to live with your emotional support animal. Emailing your letter will provide proof that you have submitted your paperwork to your landlord or homeowners association.
Get started on qualifying for an ESA letter by completing the questionnaire in the link below.
FAQ #2 – What do I do if my landlord rejects my ESA even after I show them my ESA letter?
If your landlord persists on rejecting your ESA, you will ask them to write a formal letter reflecting this rejection. You will write back to them in an email stating that you have provided all necessary documentation (which is an ESA letter from an ESA doctor or licensed mental health professional). You may write back documenting that they are rejecting a reasonable accommodation request. You can then inform them that you will be filing a complaint with the HUD for open discrimination of your disability. At this stage, your landlord will be pushed to read up on the law and see that reasonable accommodation is required to emotional support animal handlers. Be calm but ready to fight for your rights, no one should be forced out of their home or denied housing due to their disability.
Please note that we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. This is information that our clients have found helpful and we hope this is helpful to you as well.
FAQ #3 – Can a landlord reject my ESA because it is too young or too old?
Emotional support animals cannot be denied due to their age. Landlords that deny dogs because they are younger and are considered puppies are not following the rules set out by the Fair Housing Act. With that being said, you are responsible for the actions of your ESA. If your puppy causes damages to the building, you are liable. The key is to clearly explain to your landlord that there are no age requirements for an ESA and that you will be a responsible handler and will make sure your ESA, regardless of age, is well behaved.
FAQ #4 – My landlord is requiring me to register my ESA. Can a landlord require ESA registration if I already submitted my ESA letter?
The only type of “registration” you need is your ESA letter. ESA registration is not required by law. The Fair Housing Act only requires an ESA letter signed by a licensed mental health professional that is written on their official letterhead.
Whether or not you order an ESA Certification (separate and not to be confused with an ESA letter) is up to you. Some people will prefer to order a certificate or vest instead of arguing with their landlord. You can always make this decision, but it is also important that you are aware that their request is not mandated by Fair Housing.
FAQ #5 – Can a landlord evict me for getting an ESA?
No, your landlord cannot evict you because they do not want you to have an ESA. This is in direct violation of Fair Housing regulations. You are required to request reasonable accommodations for your ESA before bringing them into your apartment. If you qualify for an ESA letter, you will submit it to your landlord and request reasonable accommodations for your ESA. Once they grant your request, you may bring your ESA home. You are not required to pay a pet deposit or monthly fee.
Unfortunately, not many landlords or building supers are well versed in ESA regulations. If they bully you, do not feel worried. Instead, calmly advise them of your rights and have them verify it with their team.
FAQ #6 – Can a landlord question me about my mental or emotional disability?
No, they cannot. But this does not mean they will not try. If you ever feel uncomfortable with your landlord’s questions, you may request that they email them to you. Most of the time, landlords are simply unaware of the rules surrounding emotional support animals. We recommend that you stay calm and clearly explain your rights to them. Let them know that inquiring about your disability is not allowed and recommend they seek legal advice before continuing to pressure you to disclose details regarding your disability.
FAQ #7 – When can a landlord legally reject an ESA?
There are some conditions when a landlord can reject your ESA. Emotional support animal protection is meant to protect a person with an emotional or mental disability, the law is not made to punish the landlord. This is why there are particular situations where a landlord can reject an ESA.
- First – if the animal is too large for the accommodation size. For example, a horse or a llama may be rejected from a small studio apartment.
- Second – if the building has 4 units or less and the landlord lives in one of the buildings.
- Third – it is a single-family house that was rented without a realtor and the owner owns less than 3 single family homes.
- Fourth – if the animal in the unit brings an undue financial hardship to the landlord.
- Fifth – if the animal causes damages or harm to others in the building.
What to do if your landlord continues to discriminate against your ESA
The first step would be to request that your landlord advise you of their current position (refusal, denial, etc.), in writing, as required by law. That means email or letter, but not text.
Then, we recommend that you advise your landlord (in writing) that you are willing to file a HUD complaint about open discrimination. We find that the vast majority of landlords will follow the law (even if reluctantly) and approve your ESA rather than violate federal housing laws and disability rights outlined by HUD. It is important to stand up for yourself and the right to live with your emotional support animal. When faced with the fear of discrimination, remember that the rules are here to protect you.
Housing Discrimination Complaint Online
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W. , Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410
Other Emotional Support Animal Rights
Besides housing access, emotional support animals are also allowed to fly with their handler on airplanes. To learn more about flying with your ESA, you may read this article.
Qualify for an emotional support animal today!
Get the Love and Support you deserve.
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