Updated Hud Housing Rules for an Emotional Support Animal
In early 2020, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new rules for emotional support animals (ESAs) on fair housing. These rules address major issues like what accounts for the service animal and special forms that airlines require that confirm the animal’s health and behavior. These new guidelines hint at a major development for ESA owners since the last update issued in 2013.
Refer to these new rules issued in January 2020 that replace the 2013 rules. This article aims to help you understand an individual’s right to be accompanied by an emotional support animal.
What is the Fair Housing Act for emotional support animals?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on religion, color, race, or nationality. It is not legal for housing providers to refuse accommodation for a person with a disability. Individuals with mental health conditions like depression, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder have emotional support animals that provide therapeutic emotional support. To qualify for an ESA, its owner must have an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional.
Owners with an ESA letter have the following rights under the fair housing act.
Emotional support animals are allowed in every type of housing, even in buildings with no pet policy.
ESAs are different from normal pets under the fair housing act. Housing policies that apply to normal pets do not apply to ESAs.
A landlord cannot impose a weight or breed restriction on an ESA. They can’t fundamentally alter the person’s choice for an ESA.
New Housing Rules for an Emotional Support Animals
The housing department sets the best rules for ESA accommodations. HUD points out that this was because of an increasing number of complaints. In response to those complaints, HUD issued new guidelines for ESA accommodations.
The new guidelines confirm previous rules and provide additional protections for ESA owners. HUD’s new rules also answer some of the most common questions not addressed previously. Here are some facts regarding the new housing rules that all ESA owners should know.
1. HUD Confirms That Landlords Cannot Impose Restrictions On ESA
HUD has new rules that landlords cannot refuse ESAs. This rule means landlords cannot restrict the breed, size, and weight of animals used as ESAs. Landlords cannot deny an ESA unless there is a valid reason. For example, if an ESA can pose a direct threat to others.
Under new HUD rules, landlords are also not allowed to charge extra fees or deposits. Even if the building charges monthly for normal pets, ESAs owners do not have to pay such costs. HUD clarified that landlords could not charge any fee in connection with the ESA. However, a landlord can charge in case of any damage caused by the tenants or their ESAs.
2. Landlords Should Respond to a Tenant’s ESA Request In 10 Days
According to HUD, landlords should respond within 10 days of receiving the accommodation request. Landlords cannot deny the ESA accommodation request unless an ESA is at safety risk to others.
3. Landlords Cannot Ask For a Special Form Or Demand Something Unreasonable
One common issue that tenants face is that landlords ask for special forms in addition to the ESA letter. Landlords also ask for special requirements from the health care professional.
HUD stated that landlords could not ask a healthcare professional to use a specific form to provide documents or make specific statements about the person’s mental health. Moreover, they can not obligate you to use emotional support dog vests, badges, or other identifiable items.
If your landlord asks you to provide additional forms or insensitive details about your health, here is good news.
Tenants are now protected by the emotional support animal laws; however, if the landlord asks the health care professional to provide the additional forms or information, he denies the fair housing rules.
HUD clarified that it is the health care professional's responsibility to provide accurate information. Landlords should rely on the information provided by the health professional, and if it fulfills the standards of the ESA letter, landlords cannot ask for additional information.
4. Landlords Not Allowed to Ask Personal Questions
It has been observed that the landlords ask for personal information during the accommodation process. HUD clarified that landlords could not ask for specific details about the tenant’s condition.
Landlords cannot ask for medical documents or insist on medical examination before accepting the accommodation request. HUD stated that the landlords are not allowed to know the diagnosis of the tenant and specific details about the tenant’s health condition.
5. Hud Clarified Your ESA Request to The Landlord
Many ESA owners ask when and how to submit the ESA accommodation request to the landlord. HUD clarified that you could submit your request either in spoken or written form. Someone else can request on behalf of the ESA owner.
There is no need to include words like ‘reasonable accommodation’, ‘support animal’, or any other specific word in the written request. You just need to let the landlord know that you are planning to live with your emotional support animal and submit your ESA letter.
6. Request Accommodation Either Before or After Acquiring The ESA
Another confusion among ESA owners is whether they can make an accommodation request before or after acquiring the ESA. HUD stated that a person with any disability could make an accommodation request at any time. It is the responsibility of the landlord to consider the request no matter if you requested bringing your ESA to their home.
However, we recommend ESA owners be honest with their landlords when it comes to their ESA. If you obtain an ESA, it is better to let the landlord know in advance. It may create a problem if you bring home your ESA without informing your landlord, and he discovers it later.
7. Hud Clarified What Kind of Animals Can Qualify as ESA
Emotional support cats and dogs are mostly used as ESAs. But there are many types of animals that can be used for emotional support. HUD clarified that any small domesticated animal can be used to provide comfort and companionship to individuals with mental disorders. Emotional support dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, hamsters, hedgehogs, rats, mini pigs, and fish are some common examples of animals used as ESAs.
This does not mean that other unique animals cannot be used for emotional support. Some unique animals such as Turkeys, Roosters, Kangaroos, Squirrels, Peacocks are also spotted on planes.
HUD stated that it would be difficult for tenants to get accommodation with a unique or weird emotional support animal. Owners of such unique emotional support animals might face difficulty demonstrating the need for such animals. In such cases, the health care professional will have to describe the situations in which the ESA owner might need a particular animal.
8. Landlords Must Communicate With Their Tenants
Sometimes, tenants face situations where the landlord does not consider their ESA accommodation request or deny the request without giving any reason. HUD’s new rules stated that before denying the accommodation request, the landlord must engage in dialogue with the tenant and provide an explanation for not accepting the request.
The landlord should let the tenants know why the ESA accommodation request cannot be accepted.
9. HOAs and Co-Ops Cannot Deny The Housing Rules
HUD clarified that accommodation for an ESA must include reasonable accommodation under the fair housing act.
10. Tenants Are Responsible For The Clean-Up Or Care of Their ESA
HUD stated that the ESA owner is responsible for feeding, care, and overall monitoring of the ESA. HUD also clarified that the tenants can do this on their own or with the help of their family members. They can get help from third-party service providers to take care of their animals from time to time.
11. Landlords And Airlines Do Not Recognize Esa Registration Papers
The only way to qualify for an ESA is to get a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed health care professional. Websites that claim to provide registration for a fee are those you need to stay away from them.
ESAs do not require any registration or license. These documents do not provide any right to the ESA owner. HUD stated that the documents purchased online are insufficient to confirm that the owner has any mental condition and needs an ESA.
We recommend people not get involved in these sites because their registrations are invalid. Always contact a qualified health care professional if you want to get an authentic ESA letter.
12. Hud Clarified That You Can Get an ESA Letter Online
We have mentioned plenty of times that an ESA letter should come from a qualified health professional. HUD also confirms that in the new guidelines, the letter must come from a qualified and licensed health care professional. You can get ESA letters from psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, optometrists, physician’s assistants, nurses, and other health professionals.
Many legitimate websites online like RealESALetter.com can connect you with licensed professionals. The professionals who work with us make recommendations based on their judgment.
HUD stated that legitimate and licensed health care professionals could provide ESA services remotely or over the internet. This statement has made it easy for people who cannot see a health professional in person. Other reasons for not seeing the therapist in person may be financial or invaluable resources.
HUD’s new rules highlight the importance of ESAs, and why it is important to protect the rights of ESA owners.
In the 2020 guideline, HUD discusses the key role that the ESAs have in the lives of their owners. Here are some examples that clearly show how emotional support animals help people with mental conditions.
Emotional support animals relieve the symptoms of a mental or psychological disorder.
During an anxiety attack, they calm a person with PTSD.
They help the person deal with the pain and stress of any disability.
They help the person leave the isolation, go outside, and interact with others.
They are not trained to perform tasks to help individuals with a disability. If you are already an ESA owner or want to qualify for one, you need to understand the fair housing laws. HUD’s new guidelines clear many confusions regarding the ESA request under the fair housing act.
Please note that HUD clarified that people should not use services that sell certifications, registrations, and licenses to qualify for ESA. Remember, only licensed health care professionals can provide a legitimate ESA letter. In addition to living, this letter may help you in flying with an emotional support animal in certain instances.
If you have any mental condition and believe that ESA can help you lower the symptoms, we recommend getting help from a qualified mental health professional. If you don’t know how to access a licensed mental health professional or face difficulty finding one, consult RealESALetter.com. We can help you get a letter easily if you qualify for an ESA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ESA protected under the Fair Housing Act?
Yes, you can bring your pet on board. However, there are some steps you need to take to claim the status of your pet.
Do I have to disclose my emotional support animal?
No law says you have to tell a landlord about your emotional support animal when applying for an apartment. However, landlords must also consider requests from tenants for emotional support animals. Remember, some laws protect your right to have an emotional support animal.
What if you order a “discounted” or “bargain” ESA Letter online?
There are strict penalties under law for offering non-legitimate documentation to landlords, transportation providers, or public facilities. Those penalties include
A criminal record.
A felony conviction that may result in serious jail time.
Fines up to $100,000 or more (Penalties vary from state-to-state).
Why take the chance?
Getting a legitimate, legally-enforceable ESA Letter is a simple process
Your consultation is protected by our Money-Back Guarantee.
If your application is not approved for any reason by our licensed mental health professional your amount will be refunded. No questions asked!
Under law, all ESA certification letters expire in a year.
Select this option to have a new letter sent to you automatically for a discounted rate.
You will be charged after 365 days. You can cancel your renewal at anytime by emailing. info@RealESAletter.com
By ordering priority letter. We will prioritize the fulfilment of the digital letter usually within 24 hours but it can take up to 48 hours.
We will send you a physical letter within 2-3 working days.
How does this relate to your ESA letter purchase? Many airlines and housing complexes require additional forms to be filled out in order to verify the ESA status of your animal.
These forms are all different, as each require different levels of verification and requirements. Other ESA services charge PER FORM, which can really add up with each time you travel or move. With us, you only pay $10/month for this service. First 30 days are free and you will be billed after that.
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