Many people in our society are suffering from a wide variety of mental health conditions. A great way for such people to have support is to have an emotional support animal (ESA).
Many people with emotional support animals get pushed around by various authorities because they do not know their rights. The following are 6 facts you should be aware of to ensure you enjoy your rights as an ESA owner:
There Are Federal Laws and State Laws Regarding ESAs
First and foremost, you should know that there are separate state and federal laws for ESA owners. The two main federal laws in this regard are the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. However, you will have to look up the ESA laws for your individual state to know which ones address your situation.
You Need a Recommendation Letter from a Therapist
You should know that you should get a recommendation letter from a therapist to have an ESA. Otherwise, the animal is just a pet. As long as you have a valid letter from a licensed therapist, any domesticated animal can become an emotional support animal. Therefore, it is better if the recommendation to own an ESA comes from a mental health professional.
You Must Learn Travel Rules as an ESA Owner
The Aircraft Access Carrier Act (ACCA) is a federal law that gives passengers the right to travel with their ESAs. The ACCA and Federal Housing Act are the two federal laws all ESA owners should conclusively understand. You will have to get housing or travel ESA letters from American Service Pets in order to live or travel with your emotional support animal. You should learn about what it takes to get such a letter. Here is a great resource on flying with your ESA: Guide to flying with an emotional support animal
You Should Not be Charges Extra Rent as an ESA Owner
One of the rights covered under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is that you should not be charged any extra rent or fees because you live with an emotional support animal. However, you should also note that the landlord reserves the right to deny tenancy to any ESA owner at their discretion. Housing providers should evaluate a tenant’s ESA request and respond within 10 days. Therefore, if you are charged extra or are discriminated against because you have an ESA, you have the right to fight back.
There Should Be No Restrictions on ESAs in Housing
Another fact you should know is that housing providers are not allowed to impose any restrictions on an emotional support animal. They cannot discriminate based on the breed of the animal, its size, weight or type of animal. As long as the animal is your support animal and does not cause others harm, you are legally allowed to live with it.
ESA Letter Renewals
As stated above, you need an ESA letter from a licensed medical or mental health professional and from American Service Pets for you to live or travel with an emotional support animal. You should note that an ESA letter is only valid for a year from the sign date. You will need to renew it for housing and air travel purposes every year.