If you could obtain the proper documentation while having an emotional support animal (ESA), then you would be offered some protection by the federal laws regarding housing. Both the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Department of Housing (HUD) make sure that ESA owners are discriminated against for their necessity of an emotional support animal. For demonstrating that an animal is an ESA indeed, the landlords of specific accommodations where there is a no pets policy can ask for some reasonable supporting documentation. This documentation is known as an ‘ESA letter’, which is generally provided by a licensed healthcare professional.
With the help of an ESA letter, the owner of an emotional support animal is provided with the following privileges:
- Permission for the animals to reside along with its owner in any housing, apartments, condos, and other types of accommodation including those prohibiting pets.
- ESA owners aren’t needed to pay any sort of pet fees and deposits.
- Landlords are prohibited from disapproving an ESA because of its characteristics such as breed, weight, etc.
In case you are suffering from issues related to your mental health and want to know whether you qualify for an emotional support animal through online services, then we help you get connected with a licensed therapist in your state via the link given below.
Today, we will be observing the specific set of guidelines set forward by the HUD in order to know what will be included in an ESA letter. Along with that, we will also cover the details on how you can qualify for an ESA letter with the help of ESA Certificate.
It should be duly noted that landlord is allowed to deny an emotional support animal when they think it is dangerous or its existence poses a health risk for the other people living in that accommodation.
Table of Contents
1. Who has the ability to issue an ESA Letter for Housing?
According to the guidelines of HUD, an ESA letter for housing is required to be provided by a licensed healthcare professional. Professionals belonging to the healthcare field (especially mental health) such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors are able to issue an ESA letter. Additionally, other types of healthcare experts such as physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician’s assistants, etc., are also allowed to issue ESA letters as per HUD rules.
In most cases, people wonder whether it is okay to opt for an online professional for acquiring an ESA letter. Well, what most people don’t know is that it is okay to do so. Under HUD’s guidelines, it has been made clear that HUD recognizes ESA letters obtained from licensed healthcare professionals who offer their services remotely or via the internet. Due to the ongoing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are preferring remote healthcare professionals and telehealth services as a viable source for dealing with their mental health necessities.
2. How to obtain an ESA Letter for Housing purposes?
In case you are interested in acquiring an ESA letter for housing, then you must consult your therapist or doctor and discuss the same with them. If you currently don’t have access to a therapist or a doctor, or if your healthcare expert is not familiar with the information related to the ESA letter for housing, then you can get connected with a licensed mental health professional with the help of ESA Certificate. All the healthcare professionals belonging to our network specialize in ESAs and can assist you with your specific ESA-related needs and provide ESA letters that can be submitted to landlords by the qualifying ESA owners.
The important steps of acquiring an ESA letter for housing are as follows:
- Contact your therapist or doctor or else get connected with one via ESA Certificate.
- Let the professional know about your specific condition for needing an emotional support animal.
- The therapist or doctor would issue you an ESA letter on their letterhead.
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3. Is an ESA Letter provided by ESA Certificate considered legit?
As we’ve discussed earlier, the ESA letter is to be provided by a healthcare professional with a valid license. This actually means someone who is a psychiatrist, psychologist, registered nurse, doctor, or any other healthcare expert belonging to a similar category. Additionally, the guidelines of HUD allow tenants to acquire an ESA letter from healthcare professionals offering their services remotely via online methods.
This makes it clear that you can get an ESA letter from ESA Certificate without having to visit a therapist/doctor in person, as long as the professional has a valid license. With the help of ESA Certificate, you can gain access to get connected with a licensed healthcare expert who is aware of all the aspects related to emotional support animals and is licensed to offer services in your state.
When you become eligible for the criteria, the therapist/doctor within the network of ESA Certificate would issue you an ESA letter. Generally, the letter would be signed and dated by the mental health professional and consist of their contact information as well as their license details. This letter can be submitted to your landlord in order to request permission for letting your ESA stay with you in that particular accommodation. To be precise, the only documentation necessary to prove your requirement for an emotional support animal is an ESA letter, which has even been made clear by the HUD.
4. What should be included in an ESA Housing Letter?
The information that is to be present in an ESA letter is as follows:
- Name of the tenant.
- Name of the healthcare professional along with their contact & license information.
- The type of emotional support animal, which is needed by the tenant (such as cat, dog, bird, etc.)
However, the ESA letter is the documentation proving the need for an emotional support animal, and therefore, it should contain the following information.
- The tenant’s impairment that makes limits one or more of their major life activities. Some of the qualifying conditions, in this case, comprise mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
- The information that the tenant requires their emotional support animal for alleviating the symptoms of their mental health issues.
Along with these details, it is mandatory for the ESA letter to be signed and dated by the respective healthcare professional. ESA letters can exist online such as a PDF file or they could be provided to you as a hard copy. It is not obligatory for the ESA letter to be in the form of a printed hard copy, because most therapists, online therapists to be precise, provide an ESA letter in a digital format.
5. In which type of situation can I use an ESA Housing Letter?
ESA letters come in handy in several situations where normal pets or certain breeds are subject to restrictions or even prohibited. Given below are some of the instances where you can utilize your ESA housing letter.
- Rental House
- Home Owners Association (HOA)
6. Information that isn’t necessary to be included in an ESA Letter
Each and every individual has the right to confidentiality with respect to their specific health condition that requires the need of an ESA. The information related to the mental health of an individual is sensitive and discrete information. Therefore, Fair Housing rules offer tenants a right to privacy regarding their mental health details.
HUD also mentions that the disclosure of sensitive information, i.e., information related to the diagnosis, the severity of a disorder, health records, and medical information isn’t necessary.
Landlords are not allowed to ask for the details related to the tenant’s condition or any other medical records. Even the healthcare experts aren’t permitted to disclose any of the information related to their client’s health condition and are bound by ethical rules to do so. Because of these reasons, an ESA letter for housing will not contain any details related to a person’s health condition. Due to the non-specific information provided in an ESA letter, most people (who are not familiar) might find them to be complex, especially because of the lack of details regarding a person’s mental health disorder.
7. Is an ESA Letter required to follow a Landlord’s Form?
The rules of HUD state that landlords aren’t permitted to demand a tenant’s documentation to follow their own set of rules or requirements. To obtaining accommodation for an emotional support animal, the only documentation necessary is a valid ESA letter containing the information as per the HUD’s guidelines, and there is nothing else that needs to be submitted other than this.
8. Is an ESA Letter required to be notarized or should it be having a Sworn Statement?
Landlords are not allowed to ask for documents notarized by healthcare professionals or make claims stating that the information is false. All that a landlord needs is a copy of a valid ESA letter, which is either a physical copy or exists in a digital format and is properly presented on the letterhead of that healthcare professional.
Safeguard your right to own an emotional support animal; get informed on how an ESA letter for housing appears like.
9. Can we use a Certificate, ID Card, or Registration as a substitute for an ESA Letter?
Registrations, ID Cards, and Certifications aren’t considered valid substitutes for an ESA letter for housing. Moreover, it is not necessary for a person to obtain any of these after they’ve successfully obtained an ESA letter. HUD also warns individuals to be aware of the companies that try to mislead them by selling registrations and certifications. Even though ID cards are not really required, individuals use them as an indication for letting other people know that their animal companion is not just any ordinary pet, and instead, it is an emotional support animal that has some specific benefits. Nevertheless, an ID card might not suffice as an official substitute for an ESA letter.
10. Are there any particular set of requirements for ‘Unique’ Animals?
Based on the rules of HUD, any small and domesticated animal that is kept in the house for pleasure and not for a commercial purpose is eligible for keeping as an emotional support animal. Usually, most people opt for animals such as dogs, cats, birds, rodents, and fish for keeping as pets or making them into emotional support animals.
In some specific cases, exotic animals like snakes or goats can also be kept as emotional support animals. However, for keeping such exotic animals as emotional support animals, an individual might have to go through a complex procedure of documentation contrary to the usual procedure. Unique animals need ESA housing letters containing highly advanced terminology that justifies the individual’s need for that unique animal along with some other details that might not be necessary for a usual ESA housing letter.
11. Is it necessary for an ESA Letter to contain the name of my ESA?
The ESA letter for housing must present the information related to the type of ESA you have with you, such as a dog, cat, bird, fish, etc. However, it might not be necessary to identify the specifics of that animal. In many cases, individuals obtain an ESA letter from their healthcare professional before they actually adopt an animal. Even the healthcare professionals are not allowed to suggest the specific type of animal that is to be chosen by the individual. The therapist/doctor can only determine whether it is beneficial for a person’s health condition by having an emotional support animal.
12. Where can an ESA Letter be renewed?
Individuals can connect with their healthcare professionals and talk about the actual ESA letter written by them or renew their ESA letter via online services. For renewing the ESA letter with the help of online services, the procedure is provided below.
- First, you will be required to complete the ESA renewal questionnaire.
- Then, the healthcare professional will review your questionnaire, and in the meanwhile, you can contact them if you have any queries.
- You will then receive your updated ESA letter through the United States Postal Service mail and/or email.
- This up-to-date ESA letter can be provided to your landlord or any other housing association.
13. Sample ESA Housing Letter
Given below is a sample ESA housing letter, and it should be taken into careful consideration that this ESA letter is just a reference for educational purposes and people cannot be able to utilize this as an actual ESA letter. An official and legit ESA letter is issued by a healthcare professional with a valid license, who generally customizes the letter based on the person’s needs. Unlike this sample, an ESA letter obtained from a licensed healthcare professional, even when they are working with ESA Certificate, will not contain the words ESA Certificate on the letter itself.