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Emotional Support Animal law guide

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Animals have a long history of relationships with Humans and are known as humankind’s most loyal and closest companions. So it’s not surprising that many of us now rely on these animals for our mental health needs, and today, they have become pillars of many of our emotional and psychological needs. Animals that fulfill those needs are called ESAs (emotional support animals).

Emotional support animals are protected by federal and state laws when it comes to housing and traveling. One of the challenges ESA owners face is misinformation about ESA law. Now we will discuss the ESA law regarding emotional support animals when traveling and tenanting with your emotional support dog.

Emotional support animal federal law

Emotional Support Animal Owners have Two Federal Laws: the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These two laws relate to an individual’s right to have their emotional support animal with them and what they should expect from airlines and landlords. The FHA offers emotional support to pet owners and protection from pet restrictions and extra charges. The ACAA was changed at the beginning of 2021 to exclude emotional support animals. Now some airlines allow emotional support animals, and some do not. A summary of what rights emotional support animals have can be found by reading on:

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law enacted to protect individuals from discrimination when buying or renting a home and participating in other housing-related activities. Under the FHA, emotional support animals are in a different legal classification than pets, that’s why pet restrictions and fees are not for them. They are animals that provide services for the benefit of a person with mental health issues or provide emotional support that improves the symptoms of mental illness. Landlords must provide accommodation based on FHA to the owners of emotional support animals.

What Are the Rights of ESA Owners Under the Fair Housing Act?

There are several rights that emotional support animal owners have under the FHA. This act applies to all emotional support animals except for ones that cause a safety hazard for anyone else on the property. Under the Fair Housing Act, ESA owners have these rights:
  • The right to keep their ESA(s), even if the housing complex restricts pets
  • Exclusion from weight or breed restrictions on pets
  • Exclusion from extra charges on pets
Emotional support animal owners can expect these accommodations, whether buying or renting. A landlord cannot refuse to give these accommodations to the Emotional support animal owners.

If your landlord refuses to accommodate:

If you have an ESA letter from a registered medical professional, the landlord must agree to provide you with reasonable accommodation. If a landlord denies your accommodation request, you have the right to file a complaint against the landlord. You have several options for filing a complaint:
  • You can file a discrimination complaint through the website of HUD (Housing and Urban Development).
  • You can take a print of the HUD Discrimination Form and mail it to the HUD office.
  • You can also physically file a complaint directly with your state’s agency.

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What Kinds of Housing Situations Are Protected Under the Fair Housing Act?

All types of housing, including public housing, are covered by the FHA except:
  • Owner-occupied buildings that have not more than four units and one unit is occupied by the owner
  • Housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs
  • Single-family housing sold or rented by the owner without the use of a broker

The Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits airlines from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Airlines cannot discriminate against people with mental and physical disabilities and must provide reasonable accommodations for them. This emotional support pet law instructs airlines to allow individuals with mental or emotional disabilities to keep their emotional support animals in the cabin without incurring any extra service charge. However, after January 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued new rules that allow airlines to exclude emotional support animals. But the good news is there are still a few airlines that allow emotional support animals voluntarily. Psychiatric service dogs (PSD) are still under the ACAA, and all airlines must allow passengers with a PSD to fly in the cabin free of charge.

Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) with Disabilities Act

Remember, PSD is different from emotional support dogs. Based on the task, PSD is different from emotional support animals. A PSD helps individuals perform specific tasks associated with mental illness, and they have special ESA rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you want to take advantage of the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, You must qualify for an ESA letter from a registered health care provider. A valid ESA letter from a registered professional is the only way for an emotional support animal under the FHA and ACAA.

Conclusion

An ESA can easily make life better for a person experiencing mental illness. Fortunately, some laws grant rights to these animals and their owners. If you are facing any issues with finding a healthcare provider that is knowledgeable about emotional support animals, My ESA Therapist can help. You can check the eligibility criteria for an emotional support animal by clicking here.

Why Choose The My ESA Therapist?

ESA Letter is not a cure to any mental disability, it is just a legal document signed by a therapist that certifies your disability and gives your pet the status of “emotional support animal” so that you get the freedom to take your pets to restricted places. At My ESA Therapist, we aim to provide a better life to you through the companionship and love that you attain by the presence of your pet. We are here to assist you in proclaiming your privileges as a pet owner and deal with uncooperative tenant restrictions and outrageous pet deposits.

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