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Do ESA Letters Expire? - When to Renew Yours

Although ESA letters do not have an expiry date, it is still recommended to renew your ESA letter annually. Think of your ESA letter as a prescription for your emotional support animal care that you need to keep up to date. In our experience having an updated ESA letter makes the process of getting reasonable accommodation a far smoother process.

Kristi Carignan
April 26, 2024
July 18, 2023
7 minute read
Updated By
Matt Fleming
April 25, 2024
Expert Reviewed By:
July 18, 2023
August 18, 2021
7 minute read
April 25, 2024
ESA letters do not have a set expiry date legally, but landlords often request a new ESA letter annually. Learn more about the duration of ESA letters and landlord requirements.

If you have an official ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner, your ESA likely brings you a huge amount of therapeutic benefit. ESA letters act like medical prescriptions, showing housing providers and other institutions that you qualify for an ESA based on your mental health needs. With so much misinformation around, it can be hard to figure out whether ESA letters expire. In this article, we will explore how long an ESA letter lasts and why keeping it fresh and up-to-date is advisable.

Do ESA Letters Expire?

Generally, most ESA letters do not expire, and although some companies selling ESA letters include a self-imposed one-year limit, that is not mandated by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). However, some housing providers might require an up-to-date ESA letter when a new lease is signed, so it might be beneficial to renew your ESA letter annually. Also, some states, such as Arkansas, have laws requiring an ESA letter to be updated once a year, so it’s a good idea to check your state’s laws before letting yours potentially lapse.

It is best to keep ESA letters up to date and renew them every year in our experience. An up-to-date letter shows that:

  • You are taking your mental health seriously and keeping tabs on things with a medical professional. 
  • Your condition is ongoing, and you currently qualify for an ESA.
  • It looks more legitimate to landlords and may result in fewer issues around housing.

How Long are ESA Letters Good For?

Most ESA letters do not have a standardized expiration date and are technically considered valid indefinitely. However, it's crucial to communicate with your housing provider to understand their specific requirements and policies regarding ESA documentation. In some cases, if your ESA letter is more than one year old, certain housing providers may request that you renew it. It's important to note that some therapists choose to include an expiration date on ESA letters, typically requiring them to be renewed annually. Additionally, if your mental health condition or situation changes, it is advisable to schedule a reevaluation with your Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) to ensure that you still qualify for an ESA.

Do You Have to Renew an ESA Letter?

Technically, ESA letters don’t expire, so the FHA doesn’t require you to renew yours at any certain intervals. However, some housing providers might request a new ESA letter annually, which is their right to do — as long as they are not discriminating against the individual. That’s why it may be helpful to renew your ESA letter annually, just in case.

Can a Landlord Ask for a New ESA Letter?

Yes, landlords and other housing providers are allowed to ask you for an updated ESA letter to cover their own bases when it comes to having animals in their properties and their company’s insurance. This could happen if you renew a lease or the property changes management or ownership, so renewing yours annually could save you a headache.

How to Renew Your Emotional Support Animal Letter

If you need or want to renew your ESA letter, just follow the same steps you did to acquire it originally. Either through your current LMHP, a new mental health professional, or through an ESA letter provider such as Pettable!

1. Take Our Assessment — Take a quick, stress-free assessment so we can identify your ESA needs, and whether you are due for a renewal. Or if you are new to Pettable, you can help us better understand your specific needs.

2. Attend a Brief Consultation We'll connect you with a licensed therapist in your state. During the consultation, they will evaluate your ESA needs. Just chat with them about what your ESA means to you. It's a no-stress, zero-pressure meeting.

3. Get Your New ESA Letter Get your ESA letter in 24-48 hours and present it to your housing provider. If for any reason you are not successful in obtaining this, Pettable guarantees 100% money back.

A couple with their emotional support animal on their laptop

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is a document written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) or other medical professional, that recognizes the patient's mental health disability and verifies their need for an emotional support animal. An ESA letter is essential for exercising the housing rights of a person with a disability; with it, the individual is exempt from pet fees, pet rent, and “no-pet” policies.

To be considered legitimate, the letter should include:

  • The LMHP’s official letterhead and license credentials
  • The date of issuance
  • The patient’s information, and states that the patient exhibits symptoms qualifying as a mental health disability significantly affecting their daily life.
  • A statement recognizing the patient’s need for an ESA
  • Official signature

An ESA letter is hugely beneficial when it comes to housing rights. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords cannot discriminate against tenants on the grounds of disability and must make reasonable accommodations to allow them to live with their ESA. Showing landlords an official letter highlights the legitimacy of your case.

An ESA Letter is a Prescription

Just like any other mental health treatment, such as medications, an ESA letter is a prescription that can only be written by a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, independently licensed therapist, or even a family doctor. Only an official ESA letter prescribed for your mental health disability works for securing better housing terms.

Who Qualifies for an ESA Letter?

To qualify for an official ESA letter, patients must have a recognized mental or emotional health disorder diagnosed by a licensed medical practitioner. Mental health conditions might include depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Who Can Write an ESA Letter?

A licensed medical practitioner in the patient's home state can write an ESA. Professions who can write an ESA letter include general practitioners and family doctors, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, licensed therapists, clinical social workers, and clinical psychologists.

An example graphic of an ESA letter that states the clinicians name, license number, and the state in which they are licensed.
A legitimate ESA letter should contain the issuing clinician's name, license number, and the state in which they are licensed.

What are the Requirements to Obtain an ESA Letter?

To qualify for a new or renewed ESA letter, you must be diagnosed by an LMHP with a qualifying mental health condition such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety or panic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

After your medical provider makes a diagnosis, they can write your official ESA letter.

What if I’m No Longer Seeing the Therapist who Originally Wrote my ESA Letter?

If you want to renew your ESA letter, you don’t need to obtain it from the same mental health practitioner. You can establish a new relationship with a different LMHP or connect to a new one through a trusted ESA letter provider like Pettable.

What Should I Do if My ESA Letter Was Rejected for Being Expired?

If your landlord or other housing provider rejects your ESA letter for being over a year old, there are a few ways to proceed. You can start by talking to your landlord to acknowledge their request, then contact either the LMHP who issued your original ESA letter, your new therapist or counselor, or Pettable to get an updated diagnosis and document.

A woman with her to ESAs, a cat and a dog

Should I Renew My ESA Letter Every Year?

To stay on your housing provider’s good side, it’s a smart idea to renew your ESA letter every year, or at least whenever you seek new housing. Some landlords will ask for a new letter if yours was issued over a year ago, so to ensure a stress-free living situation, contact your LMHP or Pettable to get an updated ESA letter.

What to Do If Your ESA Letter is Rejected

If, for some reason, a housing provider rejects your ESA letter, you can do a few things. Firstly, find out exactly why they have rejected it to determine if you have a case. If possible, try to work through the issue with the landlord. If that doesn't work, consult the FHA and understand your rights. If you feel your rights have been violated and are not based on reason, consult the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

There are a few instances where housing providers can reject an ESA, including:

  • The animal poses safety concerns to other tenants
  • They are too big for the space and could damage the property and lead to financial backlash for the landlord 
  • The housing building comprises only four units, and one of them is occupied by an owner.
Meet the author:
Kristi Carignan

Kristi Carignan is a seasoned freelance writer with over 20 years of experience crafting copy for global agencies and brands. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her furry companions, Sugar the PomChi and Rudy the Shiba Inu, and indulging in hobbies like crafting and home renovation.

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