Posts Tagged ‘esa housing’

Emotional support animals (ESA) help individuals to overcome mental health challenges. Other people may only see a pet, but an emotional support animal fulfills the valuable role of supporting the handler in mastering life’s challenges that others might take for granted.

Is an Emotional Support Animal for you?

If you have a mental disability — such as depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorder — you may qualify for an emotional support animal. It is well documented that ESAs provide a therapeutic benefit through comfort and companionship. To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need to obtain an ESA letter. Talk to your licensed health care professional or, if your therapist is unavailable or out of state, connect with one through an online service, such as ESA Doctors.

Pets versus Emotional Support Animals 

On a general level, pets provide a special beneficial relationship. The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has collected scientific evidence, which shows how pets positively influence human lives. Pets can encourage social interaction. Pet owners are more likely to get to know their neighbors and have positive relationships than individuals who don’t own a pet. Pets can contribute to a healthy life by improving physical health, decreasing stress levels, and providing companionship.

Emotional support animals, however, have a very specific and essential task. 

Difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs. An Emotional Support Animal is More Than a Pet

More than pets, ESAs are required to serve a vital therapeutic purpose. ESAs allow people with emotional and mental health challenges to accomplish life activities that they would otherwise be unable to do. But, as opposed to a psychiatric service dog, an emotional support animal is not trained to perform a specific task.

Given the importance of the human-animal bond, it’s not hard to imagine how emotional support animals can improve the quality of life for a person suffering from a mental health issue or disability. 

Emotional support animals serve a particular therapeutic purpose by helping with emotional and mental health issues.

Mental Health Help

Before the value of emotional support animals can be explained, the importance of a person’s healthy mental well-being needs to be recognized. Mental health affects a person’s life as a whole. Not addressing these mental health concerns can cause problems at work, school, with friends, or even with family. Ignoring mental health issues can also compromise physical health in the long run by raising blood pressure, increasing heart rate, and causing muscle tension. 

Inadequate mental health can leave a person feeling lonely, drained, and defeated, unable to perform daily tasks that others take for granted. For example, a person may experience anxiety, making them unable to travel or be in social situations. Illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause insomnia, causing someone to be unable to obtain adequate sleep. Mental concerns can have a sweeping negative impact on a person’s life.

Emotional Support Dog helps to keep a positive outlook on life. Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

For people trying to overcome mental health issues, every little triumph can help on the way to recovery. Emotional support animals can offer support on the path to healing. 

Numerous studies have documented how ESAs can be part of the wellness plan for mental health issues and other disorders. Emotional support animals have been essential in helping people manage disorders such as:

Anxiety Depression Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) Agoraphobia (fear of being outside of the home) Aerophobia (fear of flying) General Anxiety Disorder Stress-induced situations Social shyness.

Get the Love and Support you deserve!

Anxiety and PTSD

Anxiety can be difficult to overcome without assistance. For those whose anxieties include phobias, anxiety can make everyday tasks impossible to accomplish. Emotional support animals are useful for anxiety and specific phobias. The ESAs provide a sense of comfort and safety, enabling patients to face and overcome those phobias. For instances:

Individuals who tend to have anxiety attacks when traveling often feel calmer in the presence of an Emotional Support Animal. Hospitalized patients with serious medical diagnoses have been shown to experience a decrease in anxiety when able to interact with an ESA. In courtrooms, Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals are used to provide victims some security while they are testifying against their alleged assailant.

Many therapists utilize Emotional Support Animals for veterans who have PTSD. A Pairing Assistance-Dogs with Soldiers (PAWS) study demonstrated that dogs significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress in veterans. Veterans with Service or Emotional Support Dogs reported improved interpersonal relationships with others, fewer instances of depression, and fewer instances of substance abuse than veterans without dogs.  

An emotional support cat offers comfort and healing. Depression

In the case of depression, emotional support dogs can save a life. In instances of severe depression, a person may be unable to perform daily activities, or they may have feelings of suicide. There is scientific evidence that a human-animal bond can be a protective factor against suicide and depression. An ESA for depression can improve mood, increase sociability, and promote responsiveness to others in cases of depression.

Beyond Priceless

An emotional support animal — a dog, cat, or any other animal — serves a specific and valuable service for the people they accompany. More than pets, ESAs serve a particular therapeutic purpose by helping deal with emotional and mental health issues. Understanding the therapeutic value of emotional support animals can lead to their increased acceptance into society.

Why are there issues with dog breeds and housing?

According to an article published by NIMH, younger adults tend to believe that landlords and property managers discriminate against their animals, specifically if they have large dogs or dogs of a specific breed. Many would also speak of how properties that did accept pets would be less than substandard quality in comparison to the landlord’s pool of available listings and also report paying non-refundable pet fees and monthly pet rents.

For the tenants that contributed to the study, many said residents staying put in their rental apartments longer than those who do not have pets, given the difficulty of finding a place that will accommodate dogs. This difficulty, according to the results of the study, shows that this situation influences the types of dogs younger adults to acquire, such as smaller dogs that are known to work better in apartments. The presented case specifically references pets, not service animals. However, for those with service animals of specific or large breeds, conflicts can occur if the tenant has issues.

What does the ADA say about service dog breeds?

The Americans with Disabilities Act describes in great detail about the role of service dogs as well as their rules and regulations. Because service dogs have specific rights to public places, it means they can also be any breed.

The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breed that can qualify for a service dog. Because any breed can be a service animal, facilities do not have the right to exclude a service animal based on the animal’s breed. Only if the animal has a history of misbehavior or is not under adequate control of the handler that the animal would be excluded, municipalities that have ordinances for certain breeds must also comply with ADA regulations, thus are not allowed to exclude a service animal off of fears or generalizations of that specific breed.

Because any breed of dog can be a service dog, facilities do not have the right to exclude a service dog based on the dog’s breed. Only if the animal has a history of misbehavior or is not under adequate control of the handler that the animal would be excluded, municipalities that have ordinances for certain breeds must also comply with ADA regulations, thus are not allowed to exclude a service dog off of fears or generalizations of that specific breed. Read: This means Pit bulls too!

Does the Fair Housing Act allow landlords to deny certain breeds as emotional support dogs?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses a broader term, assistance animals, to encompass animals such as service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals.

The Fair Housing Act, which outlines the specific protocols and regulations that tenants and residents must follow, argues that housing providers cannot apply breed, size, or weight restrictions to assistance animals. It also agrees with ADA’s protocol that the removal of an animal must be based on the actual animal behavior, and not the assumptions and fears of the type of harms that could potentially happen. This also has protection under the FHA in regards to the potential resident, as those with disabilities are not allowed to be discriminated against because of those disabilities. In alignment with ADA and FHA, service dogs and emotional support dogs cannot be refused. Please note that ESA registration is not required by law, but can assist in identifying your animal as an emotional support animal to your landlord or HOA.

TLDR: Your assistance animal (service animal or emotional support dog) cannot be denied based on breed, size, or weight.

What to do if your landlord refuses to accommodate?

If your request is reasonable and the landlord denies it, you, as a person with a disability, have the right to request your local government agency to investigate in the matter in claims of discrimination. Some options include:

You can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, either online or you can call the Housing Discrimination Hotline: (800) 669-9777. You can also file a complaint directly with your state’s agency if they investigate discriminatory claims. You can contact a disability attorney. Can landlords still charge pet fees?

Because service dogs and assistance animals are not considered pets, landlords, co-ops, and HOA’s are not allowed to charge tenants with extra pet fees or pet deposits. However, a tenant can still be charged fees for damages done by the animal to the home. It is also possible to charge residents if the animal is not able to be removed from the premises for misbehavior and/or damages.

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your landlord and you suspect they are discriminating agains you, you can seek support from your local Fair Housing Authority. It’s essential to file the discrimination within one year after the date of the discriminatory act, but it is recommended that it should be filed as soon as possible. The HUD or Fair Housing will then either investigate or submit it to another agency to investigate. As the HUD centers around those with disabilities, those that feel their rights were discriminated against can lead to legal actions such as compensation, changes in policies, and discrimination training. If you’re looking to file a discriminatory complaint, you can find more information about the investigation process on the HUD.gov website.

When seeking rented accommodation, it is not uncommon to find that landlords or housing providers have imposed a ‘no pets’ policy as part of their agreement. This is usually due to many factors such as noise, potential damage to their property, or simply due to insurance restrictions. While the majority of renters have to abide by this policy, there are some situations where individuals are allowed to keep animals in accommodation where a ‘no pet’ policy is imposed.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that disabled persons may live in accommodation with their service animals, even where pets are not usually allowed. This is because service animals are extremely well behaved due to their extensive training, and are not considered as pets. As emotional support animals are prescribed to individuals as a therapeutic treatment for their psychological disorders, some landlords will allow them to live with their owners despite a ‘no pet’ policy, but they are not always obliged to, and will not always allow this. So what can you do if your landlord does not accept your emotional support animal?

Emotional Support Animals Do Not Have the Same Rights as Service Animals

Animals have long been used to medically assist humans with various needs, such as a service dog to aid a blind or visually impaired person with navigation and protection, or an emotional support animal to provide affection and companionship as part of a treatment plan for anxiety issues. These animals both provide a similar service, but are not regarded equally in the eyes of the law.

Service animals are trained specifically to assist with an individual’s disability and are recognized by the ADA. Emotional support animals, however, are not ADA approved animals and therefore are not exempt from certain restrictions such as access to public places or private establishments in the same way that service animals are.

While applying to rent private accommodation with a ‘no pets’ policy can be a relatively straightforward process for owners of service animals due to the ADA, the same process can be a little more tricky for people with emotional support animals. Not to worry though! The Fair Housing Act protects owners of emotional support animals to live with their ESA in most housing situations.

Some landlords may be okay with Emotional Support Animals, and some might not

Because landlords are not obliged to accept emotional support animals when processing your application in the same way they have to with service dogs, you may have to accept that some accommodation may be off limits to you if you do not have documentation or an ESA letter from a licensed therapist.

Whether you already have an emotional support animal and are seeking new accommodation, or already live in accommodation with a ‘no pet’ policy and have been assigned an emotional support animal, you may face a few barriers regarding your application. Please continue reading to find out how to protect yourself from uninformed landlords. 

How Can I Get an ESA Letter Online?

What to do if my Landlord says “NO” to my Emotional Support Animal?

If you provide the correct documentation from a licensed therapist and your landlord is still insistent about not allowing your ESA, you have a few options.

You can contact the HUD and file a complaint You can contact a lawyer and have them write a strongly worded letter to your landlord You can contact an ESA advocate that will point you in the right direction All hope is not lost thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA)

When can apartments not allow my emotional support animal? There are certain circumstances where landlords are not obliged to accept Emotional Support Animals, such as:

Buildings that have four or fewer dwellings of which the landlord is the occupant of one Single family accommodation rented or sold without a real estate broker

Thankfully, an accommodation that does not fall under these categories are not imposed by such restrictions and must consider all service animal or emotional support animal applications.

While service animals are looked upon more favorably in these circumstances, the fact that emotional support animals are technically not pets goes a long way when a landlord processes your application.

Should your landlord decide not to accept your emotional support animal, and if your accommodation doesn’t come under one of the above categories, then you should provide them with a letter from a licenced mental health professional, which, under the Fair Housing Act, should be sufficient proof of your need for an emotional support animal for your application.

If for any reason you are unable to obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional, there are many services available to provide sufficient proof after a successful assessment. One such service is ESA Doctors who can determine your eligibility for an emotional support animal.

Although applying for an apartment is usually a straightforward process for individuals with emotional support animals, without the need to jump through hoops to be allowed to live with their animal, sometimes the process can be a little trickier than it ought to be. By providing a letter from a licensed mental health professional such as your psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist which verifies your need for an ESA, you should have little problem making a successful application under the Fair Housing Act.

See if you qualify for an emotional support animal.