Individuals with emotional disabilities find it challenging to find a stable place of residence. The government of the United States had put forth a law to make things easier for those who have difficulty in choosing housing whilst owning an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). The Fair Housing Act aims to prevent property owners from denying accommodation citing the individual’s disability and the person’s ESA as reason for their refusal. It also implies reasonable accommodation is to be provided for those with disabilities and those who own ESA.
Service animals VS Emotional Support Animals
The basic difference between a service animal and ESA is that the former is trained to help out its owner with tasks which he/she has trouble with, while the latter doesn’t require any sort of training as the presence of those animals is solely for emotional support. The housing law for both these animals is defined separately.
Who benefits from the Fair Housing Act?
As per the Act, a person with a certified ESA and service animal cannot be denied housing by the landlord. Even if the apartment or house doesn’t entertain pets, reasonable accommodation is to be provided for the animal. The fair housing act service animal owners are not required to pay separate pet fees. The act isn’t applicable under the following circumstances:
- When the housing has fewer than 4 units and one of it is occupied by the owner
- When the animal requires a large space for accommodation – Example: horse
- When the unit is put for sale or rent by the owner and not a real estate agent
- When the animal poses a threat to neighbors or has caused some physical damage to the property – The landlord has the right to ask you pay for those damages.
Documents to be submitted to avail housing
The property owner would want proof that you require the help of an emotional service animal. Before submitting an ESA request, proper documentation is essential. ESA letters are issued by mental health professionals and confirm your need for an ESA. The letter can’t be prescribed by your family doctor as the respective person isn’t certified mental health professional. Some landlords require an additional form to be filled by your therapist. In such cases, the therapists who work closely with ESA doctors help you with the additional documentation.
How does the Act protect the rights of the ESA owner?
- The person isn’t required to pay an extra deposit
- He / She doesn’t have to reveal the nature of the disability to the landlord
- Registration of the animal isn’t required
- The landlord cannot demand a trained ESA
- The landlord cannot refuse housing if their insurance policy doesn’t cover ESA’s
The process is hassle-free when you opt for reliable online sources like ‘supportpets’ that provide ESA documentation services. Only certain medical professionals are qualified to issue valid ESA documents.
Trusted websites have professional mental health professionals and therapists. With the ESA letter in hand, a person is all set to send an ESA request.