for rent sign

It is crucial that both emotional support animal owners and landlords understand tenants’ and landlords’ rights when it comes to ESA letters. More and more Americans are renting their homes for a variety of reasons ranging from personal preference to necessity. In 2020, there were over 43 million rented homes in the US.

Lots of renters and prospective renters have mental health conditions that would benefit from emotional support animal treatment. ESAs provide invaluable companionship and support to their owners. They can improve wellbeing and alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, loneliness, and various phobias.

It is essential that emotional support pet owners know their rights when it comes to renting a home with an ESA. Emotional support animal owners who rent need to know the answers to a host of crucial questions, such as… How do I present my ESA letter to my landlord? Do landlords verify ESA letters? Can my landlord call my doctor? What can a landlord ask about an emotional support animal? And, how do I know if my ESA letter is legit? Today we will answer all of these questions and more.

What Rights Do Emotional Support Animals Have?

Emotional support animals and their owners are entitled to several rights under the law. ESAs are allowed to live in accommodation that is otherwise ‘No Pets Allowed’; they are allowed to travel in the cabin of commercial airplanes with their owners; and they are allowed to travel on most forms of public transport.

Unlike service animals, however, ESAs are not allowed to accompany their owners into every public place. This is because service animals undergo special training, while emotional support pets do not.

emotional support dogs outdoors
Image by Pezibear on Pixabay: How do I present my ESA letter to my landlord?

What Laws Deal With Landlords And Emotional Support Animals?

The federal law that deals with landlords, renting, and emotional support pets is the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carriers Act (ACA) are federal laws that also deal with emotional support pet ownership.

How Do I Present My ESA Letter To My Landlord?

You can present your emotional support animal letter to your landlord either by showing or giving them a hard copy, or by emailing them a digital copy.

However, you do not need to show your ESA letter to your landlord before you sign the lease. This is because the landlord cannot refuse to offer you the property on the basis of you having an emotional support pet.

Do Landlords Verify ESA Letters?

A landlord is entitled to verify an emotional support animal letter, but only in a way that does not violate the ESA letter owner’s rights under HIPAA.

A landlord can verify an ESA letter by checking that it is written on a letterhead with information about the mental health professional who signed it. A landlord can verify that the mental health professional is legitimate and licensed, but cannot ask about the specific details of the patient’s mental health condition.

What Are The HIPAA Rules On ESA Letters?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA is a federal law that protects the privacy of people’s sensitive health information. HIPAA rules dictate that the reasons why a patient has an emotional support pet are private and cannot be requested or disclosed without the patient’s consent.

Can My Landlord Call My Doctor?

Your landlord cannot call your doctor to request verification or more information about your ESA letter unless you give them written and signed consent to do so.

What Can A Landlord Ask About An Emotional Support Animal?

A landlord can ask to see an official ESA letter, and they can ask what species and size your emotional support pet is.

Can A Landlord Evict You For Having An Emotional Support Animal?

Landlords are legally required to make reasonable accommodations for an emotional support animal. But if an ESA behaves unreasonably, a landlord is within their rights to take action. A vicious emotional support dog that frightens other tenants could be grounds for the ESA not being allowed to remain at the property.

How Do I Know If My ESA Letter Is Legit?

A legitimate emotional support animal letter will be written on a licensed health care professional’s official letterhead. It will be signed by the licensed health care professional and will contain their contact details.

woman with esa french bulldog
Image by Mylene2401 on Pixabay: Do landlords verify ESA letters?

The most popular emotional support pets for living in rented accommodation are relatively small and easy-to-manage pets, such as:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Potbellied pigs
  • Domesticated rats
  • Miniature horses

How Do Emotional Support Pets Benefit Their Owners?

ESAs benefit their owners in numerous ways by providing:

  • Friendship, companionship, love
  • Tactile comfort and support
  • A sense of responsibility and purpose
  • A remedy for loneliness
  • A reason to go outside and exercise

What Conditions Do Emotional Support Pets Treat?

ESAs are most commonly used as a treatment for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Loneliness
  • Insomnia
  • OCD
  • Phobias

How Do I Get An Emotional Support Animal Letter?

The best way to get a legitimate emotional support animal letter is to have a telemedicine consultation with a licensed ESA doctor at the Moosh online clinic. The ESA doctor will verify your suitability for ESA treatment and then send an official ESA letter to you by email and by post.

Featured image by Erik Mclean on Unsplash