What Are Emotional Support Animal Laws?

  • Everything you need to know about Emotional Support Animal laws
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The Fair Housing Amendments Act

The Fair Housing Amendment Act

Emotional support animal laws allow you to live a comfortable life with your emotional support animal.

Emotional support animal housing laws require landlords to provide a decent accomodation to both the pet and the owner. Though these changes do take place most of the time, there are some cases where this law will not be applicable. These include:

  • If the building is smaller than four units and the landlord also resides in the same building.
  • If the property does not involve a real estate broker and is included under single-family housing.
  • The FHA doesn’t allow access to animals in public places like restaurants, cafes, or hotels and they will most likely refuse to allow your ESA. The only exception, in this case, is service animals. They can be allowed in some public places as per the Americans With Disability Act.

The FHA, a federal emotional support animal housing law, restricts landlords from doing the following:

  • Landlords cannot request you for your detailed medical records or ask about your medical condition.
  • They cannot ask about your ESA’s training or its performance in certain tasks like service animals.
  • Also can’t demand any fees or deposit for accommodating for your emotional support animal.
  • Lastly, they cannot refuse your admission on the accounts that their insurance doesn’t cover a breed or animal weight.

Verification May Be Required by Property Managers

The FHA allows a landlord to accept an ESA letter from a certified mental health professional. Additionally, he also may ask for a short verification form from a therapist or physician confirming your emotional disability.

The emotional support animal law also requires the landlord to make reasonable accommodations for for both the pet and the owner without discrimination.

Let's go through an example of how Fair Housing ESA law works.

Joseph has been recently diagnosed with severe PTSD. He is regarded disabled as defined under the Fair Housing Act. He wishes to exercise his rights under emotional support animal laws and visits myesadoctor.com.

Our medical health professional recommends Joseph a dog to help alleviate some of his symptoms. He then asks his landlord if he can have a dog as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. His landlord agrees but asks him to pay a $200 pet deposit and provide proof about the dog’s training.

Did Joseph’s landlord correctly handle Joseph’s request under emotional support animal housing laws? What if Joseph wanted a rabbit or a cat instead of a dog? Should training be a criterion?

No, Joseph’s landlord failed to handle the request correctly. The landlord cannot charge him with a pet deposit for his ESA because it is not a pet, but rather an emotional support dog by law and is medically required for his emotional condition. Furthermore, the landlord cannot ask for any kind of proof of training.

Lastly, emotional support animals need not necessarily be dogs; they can also be other animals (domesticated animals), such as cats or rabbits and various other species.

Let's go through an example of how Fair Housing ESA laws apply.

If the Landlord Refuses, Then:

According to federal emotional support animal laws, if anyone fails to comply to accommodate an emotionally impaired individual, he or she can be sued and booked for violation. This can be taken as discrimination against the disabled which is taken very seriously by the U.S Justice Department.

Generally, people fail to comply with the ESA laws because they are unaware of their existence. Although if any tenant feels to have suffered discrimination from their landlord, they can report him to the U.S. Justice Department.

These laws are not subject to just dogs but cover all other pets that fall under the emotional support animal category.

The Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)

Update: The US Department of Transportation has issued new, fresh guidelines regarding flying with Emotional Support Animals. The guidelines make it clear that ESAs will be considered as normal pets and they can no lonnger fly in-cabin.

What this implies is that ESA's will no longer gain automatic access to in-cabin flying free of charge. Instead, they will have to travel as cargo the way most pets fly. Additionally, they will also have to fill out a separate form that attests to the training and behavior of the animal in question.

Under these emotional support animal laws, people suffering from mental health conditions are allowed to board a flight with their pets i.e their pet flies with the owner in-cabin inside a carrier that must fit under the seat.

If you are planning to fly with your ESA, you have to let your airline service provider know about it in advance so that they can make the required accommodation in advance.

Under these ESA laws:

  • You can fly with your pet in-cabin provided you carry them inside a carrier as carry-ons, and keep the pet under the seat during the entire journey.
  • You have to pay an additional pet fees when traveling with your ESA on the flight.
  • Make sure that your ESA remains calm on the flight and is comfortable around other people. It is probably not a good idea to fly with your dog/cat if they suffer from social anxiety for the reason that they can create havoc on the flight.

Also, other emotional support animal laws have been enacted to support the ACAA. They are:

  • Almost all airline providers cannot refuse transportation to any individual on the grounds of suffering from a mental condition.
  • There is no limit to the number of ESA owners that can board a particular flight but the airline staff will check on how many ESAs they can accommodate on the flight.
  • You have to make sure that your pet doesn’t interfere with the flight crew. Also, disturbances like chewing, growling, or barking is not allowed during the flight.
  • You have to make sure that your ESA acts under the behavioral requirements so that both you and your pet can enjoy the flight.
The Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)

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