Are you looking for a supplemental or non-traditional way to manage your mental health struggles? Unsure where to begin? Here at American Service Pets, we have been advocating for the assistance of Emotional Support Animals and Psychiatric Service Animals for quite some time. We work with licensed healthcare professionals across the nation and, as experts in the field, are happy to break down exactly how to get a housing letter for your ESA in 2022!
If you’re unfamiliar with the acronym ESA, it stands for Emotional Support Animal. An ESA provides unconditional love, companionship, and a sense of security and comfort to its owner. Emotional Support Animals provide comfort just by being with their owner. They can help to ease anxiety, depression, stress, and certain phobias and provide relief for specific mental health challenges.
ESAs are different than Service Animals. The critical difference is that ESAs are not trained to perform a specific job or task for their owner. As such, they do not qualify as service animals under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and do not have the same federally protected public access rights. ESAs do, however, have federally protected housing rights under the ADA. More on this later.
Most pets can offer emotional support to their owner. However, to legally be considered an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional who determines the presence of the animal is necessary for your mental or emotional health. A person must have a qualifying mental illness to be prescribed an ESA. For example, a person might be prescribed an Emotional Support Animal if owning the pet helps to ease their anxiety, allow them to focus, or enable them to participate in daily activities that might prove challenging otherwise.
According to the Fair Housing Amendment Act, an ESA letter is your best option for keeping your emotional support animal in most rental units.
What is an ESA letter, and why is it important? To help you get started, we’ve compiled some of the frequently asked questions about an emotional support housing letter.
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
In two words: PET RENT.
If you rent a home or apartment, you shouldn’t be penalized for having an Emotional Support Animal. Landlords can pile on fees, pet rent, and other restrictions to pet owners, which can severely restrict your options for housing. An ESA letter is handy when looking for a new place to rent. Pet rent and other housing-related pet restrictions can devastate those who would benefit most from their presence. When life is overwhelming, you should be able to have your furry friends there to comfort and support you. American Service Pets can help!
Even if your housing complex prohibits pets, they have to make an exception for your ESA in most cases. An ESA letter serves as proof to your housing authority that your pet is an assistance animal giving you the legal right to keep them in your home.
Emotional Support Animals do not have the same federally protected public access rights as a Service Animal. Some states or local governments may have broader laws that cover ESAs. Check with your local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your area.
Fortunately, there are legal protections for pets that are Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) when it comes to housing that applies specifically to renters.
Section 504 of the Fair Housing Act offers various protections from discrimination for individuals with disabilities who want to have their animals live with them. When boiled down, this law requires most housing providers to provide an exception to tenants asking permission to have an animal when the provider has a “no pets” policy. Additionally, a pet deposit or fee would be waived as a “reasonable accommodation” for pet owners with a disability.
Think of an ESA Letter as a prescription. Similar to a prescription, an ESA Letter is a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional for a specific course of treatment for a health condition. In this case, an ESA Letter is a recommendation for an Emotional Support Animal as it would help to tangibly reduce your symptoms. To qualify for this recommendation, you must have a mental health disability that impedes your daily functioning in some way. These disorders can range from general to severe or anywhere in between!
In California, you must have a relationship with your mental health provider for 30 days before receiving an ESA letter. American Service Pets works with a network of licensed mental health professionals who have the authority to write ESA Letters. Wherever you live, American Service Pets simplifies the process for you!
A landlord cannot deny an accommodation request if you have an ESA letter. However, some landlords can request a 100% refundable deposit to protect them against damages caused by pets.
If a qualified mental health professional prescribes the housing letter, landlords cannot reject your accommodation request. Additionally, landlords can’t impose additional fees on your pet.
Finding accommodation with your Emotional Support Animal shouldn’t be difficult. Securing housing will be straightforward as long as you have the correct documents. In the rare event that you should experience push-back from a housing authority, American Service Pets is only a phone call away to help assist customers with any discrepancies!
Qualifying is simple! American Service Pets takes the hassle out of the process and makes it simple. Just complete their online assessment to see if you qualify. (It only takes a few minutes!) Once you complete the free online exam, you can be matched with a licensed Dr in your state to review your file further and give their final approval and authorization.
Your ESA Letter gets sent directly to your email for download. Most reviews take only a few minutes, and results are available within 24 hours. If you live in California, a new state law requires a 30-day waiting period, and once that period is up, your ESA letter is released for your use.
By taking our quiz, you can see if you qualify for an ESA. It’s simple to qualify and takes only a few minutes! Chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and glad you took the step to get the additional support you need.
Yes! Your pet can be your Emotional Support Animal. There is no specific training required for ESAs. If you find comfort in their presence, especially if they help you feel less anxious, worried, or depressed, your pet is likely already supporting you in this way. There are no other qualifiers for an animal to be considered an ESA. Any animal can be an ESA, but dogs and cats are the most common. Getting an ESA letter makes it official and can help you procure housing more easily.
Emotional Support Animals are an incredible, sometimes overlooked non-medical coping tool. We’ve dedicated multiple blogs to the benefits of Emotional Support Animals. Here are a few to start with if you’re new to the idea of ESAs and want to learn more.
Emotional Support Animal Blog Round-Up:
American Service Pets has a network of mental health professionals that can help answer your questions. You can call or chat with someone to get your questions answered.
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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