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Michigan Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Laws – A Complete Guide (2023)
In Michigan, there aren't specific state regulations pertaining to emotional support animals. Residents should be aware of the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, federal laws that govern the permissibility of emotional support animals in housing and on flights, respectively.
What is an emotional support animal? – An emotional support animal (ESA) can provide relief to someone who has a mental or emotional disability. Federal law does not require specific ESA training, unlike service animals, and licensed mental health professionals (LMPH) can determine if someone qualifies for an ESA.
Are ESAs considered pets in Michigan? – The short answer is no. ESAs are not considered pets and can only be offered to diagnosed individuals.
How do I get an ESA letter in Michigan? – You can obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional in Michigan. Now, you can also schedule a virtual consultation with an LMHP online to see if you qualify.
Do landlords in Michigan have to accept ESAs? – Yes, landlords must accept official ESA letters as long as it's a reasonable accommodation request.
If you have a mental or emotional disability, an emotional support animal may be right for you. Michigan has no specific ESA law in place, but the state generally follows federal guidelines, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Whether you're seeking answers for ESA housing, travel, or public laws, we are here to help. If you feel ready to get an ESA or believe one may help you, we also review how to obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). Our team shares your passion for animals, and we truly want you to get the support and assistance you deserve.
Emotional Support Animal Laws in Michigan
Michigan's emotional support animal laws follow the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Generally, most housing providers must allow emotional service animals; however, public areas, workplaces, and airlines have no legal obligation to accept ESA letters.
Furthermore, individuals falsely claiming to have an emotional support or service animal can face severe penalties, such as jail time, fines, or community service. Emotional support animals are not pets; one should only consider an ESA for legitimate mental or emotional assistance.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects individuals with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Under the FHA, housing providers must allow reasonable accommodations for emotional support animals, which they define as:
"…A change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces."
In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also specifies the accommodation must be reasonable and necessary—or there needs to be a clear link between the person's disability and their accommodation request. An official Michigan ESA letter from an LMHP can help explain this to housing providers, and it only takes a few minutes to see if you qualify.
In most cases, housing providers cannot refuse reasonable and necessary ESA accommodations. Still, they can request information that proves the individual has a disability and needs an ESA accommodation (if not already apparent). The FHA wouldn't cover these housing examples:
Owner-occupied buildings that have no more than four units
Housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members
Single-family housing sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent
Moreover, if the conditions are met, "no-pet" policies or pet fees must be waived for your emotional service animal.
Michigan ESA Laws for Employment
Employers based out of Michigan have no legal obligation to allow ESAs in the workplace. According to the ADA, the only exception would be if the job applicant or employee requires a service animal for assistance. However, ESAs (or companion/therapy animals) do not meet the criteria to be considered a service animal.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) states that ESAs lack specific training and only provide therapeutic benefits through the animal's presence; thus, the ESA is not legally required to be allowed in the workplace. However, an employer may still decide to allow your ESA to accompany you to work.
Under the ADA, employers cannot discriminate against job applicants or employees because of a disability. If you obtain a certified ESA letter and communicate with your employer, they may decide to allow your ESA. Of course, this will vary across different companies, and you should check with your employer's HR department or ESA policy to determine if this will work for you.
Michigan ESA Laws for Travel
Before January 2021, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) permitted qualified passengers to bring their ESA in the cabin without an extra fee. The law changed, and airlines can now choose to classify emotional support animals as pets. Airlines have discretion over where pets fly (in the cabin or as cargo) and if passengers pay extra fees.
Despite the change in the law, the ACAA does not prevent airlines from allowing ESA accommodations, and it may be possible to travel with your emotional service animal. Not all airlines have the same policies, and some will enable passengers to travel with their ESA—with or without a fee. Individuals should obtain an ESA letter from an LMHP in Michigan and check
the airline's emotional support animal policy for specific guidance to qualify.
Michigan ESA Public Access Laws
The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates public access for trained service animals, but emotional support animals lack the same protection. The ADA doesn't require public spaces to prevent ESAs from accompanying their handlers, and generally, emotional support animals can go where pets are allowed.
In some public areas that don't allow pets, getting permission and bringing your emotional support animal may be possible. ESA letters can sometimes be used to grant public access, but before taking your ESA with you, be sure to check with the public area's pet/emotional support animal policy. If the public area does permit emotional service animals but not pets, always make sure to bring a copy of your ESA letter for proof.
Do You Need to Register Your Emotional Support Animal in Michigan?
If you want to get an emotional support animal in the Great Lakes state, you are not required to register it as long as you have a legitimate ESA letter. In fact, registration isn’t required for an ESA in any state, so watch out for companies selling fraudulent products. However, in accordance with Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 37.303, there is voluntary state registration for service animals. Although it is voluntary, it comes with a state-official service animal identification card and patch, which can be helpful for service animal owners.
What Should Be on an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
Your official ESA will be completed by your licensed mental health professional (LMHP), written on their official letterhead with their state license number and other information. The letter will include the official diagnosis of your mental health disability and any other relevant information. Finally, they will complete the ESA letter with their signature.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in Michigan?
Your ESA letter can be written by any currently licensed medical practitioner (with relative experience) in the state of Michigan. This includes general practitioners, nurse practitioners, licensed therapists or counselors, and psychiatrists. As long as you have an in-person or virtual appointment with a licensed medical professional, they can write your official ESA letter.
Service Animal Laws in Michigan
In Michigan, service dogs are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), just as in other states, which protects them in most public situations, including restaurants, medical facilities, and shopping centers. However, the Great Lakes state also has its own laws meant to protect service dogs and their owners. For instance, Michigan law Public Act 75 of 2022 affords full protection to service animals in training, giving them the same permissions that they will have once they are fully trained.
Also, it is a misdemeanor in Michigan to fraudulently represent an unqualified animal as a service animal or service animal in training, punishable by one or more of either:
$500 maximum fine
up to 90 days in jail
up to 30 days of community service
Otherwise, ESAs in Michigan are also protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) when it comes to rental housing situations.
How to Get a Legitimate ESA Letter in Michigan
In Michigan, you can obtain an ESA letter (for housing, travel, or a combination of both) through a licensed mental health professional in the state. This process can be done online, and we're here to offer our support for your emotional animal needs. We understand if you need a letter quickly, and you can request to get your ESA letter within 24 hours of your visit.
Complete Our Assessment
This assessment only takes a few minutes to complete and helps us determine your situation and emotional animal support needs. You can also specify what kind of letter you need, such as for housing, travel, or a combination.
Consult With a Therapist
We'll send over some privacy and consent forms to authorize our clinicians to work with you, and then we will match you with a licensed mental health professional. Next, we will send a link to book your live consultation. You will complete a mental health evaluation during the visit to determine if you qualify for an ESA.
Get Your Emotional Support Animal Letter
Once our licensed mental health professional determines that an emotional support animal is essential to your care and well-being, they'll write a legally recognized emotional support animal letter for you. Michigan residents also have the option to get an ESA letter within 24 hours from the time of the consultation.
Your satisfaction is important to us. In the unlikely event that your ESA letter does not work for you, we will provide a 100% refund.
An emotional support animal comforts individuals with a mental or emotional disability, but an ESA shouldn't be mistaken for a pet or a service animal. Emotional support animals are sometimes referred to as companions, therapy, comfort, or assistance animals. According to the HUD:
"An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person's disability."
What is a Service Animal?
While service animals perform similar functions, they receive specific training to work or perform tasks for an https://pettable.com/blog/do-i-qualify-for-a-psychiatric-service-animal-quiz. Service animals can assist in multiple ways, and they have a direct impact on the handler's disability. According to the ADA, only dogs and miniature horses may train as service animals and are allowed to enter places such as grocery stores, state and local government facilities, hotels, hospitals, and more.
Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals
Emotional support and service animals may provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with disabilities, but ESAs are not trained to perform a specific task – unlike service animals. Emotional support animals are covered under the Fair Housing Act but cannot enter a public space without permission. Additionally, emotional support animals can include species of other animals besides dogs and miniature horses.
Psychiatric service dogs require training on specific tasks intended to help their owner with their mental disability. PSDs can be trained by anyone, and do not require any certification. A PSD’s legitimacy will depend upon its ability to perform the tasks required in its training and its ability to behave in public settings. You may train a psychiatric service dog yourself through an online PSD training course and complete it at your own pace. These courses walk through the required training step by step through on-demand video lessons. To learn more about online PSD training programs, take our brief online assessment to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions about Michigan ESA Laws
Do I have to tell my landlord I have an ESA in Michigan?
It depends. If your housing provider has a no-pet policy or wants to charge a fee, you must submit an ESA accommodation request with them if your disability is not apparent.
Can a landlord deny an emotional support animal in Michigan?
There are a few exceptions, but in most cases, housing providers cannot refuse reasonable ESA accommodation requests necessary for the person's disability.
When do I tell my landlord about my ESA in Michigan?
Your landlord has the right to ask for information that proves your disability, and you should notify them as soon as you obtain your ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (unless the disability is already apparent).
Can a landlord in Michigan charge a fee for an emotional support animal?
Absolutely not. Unless the housing provider can adequately prove that your request is unreasonable or unnecessary, they must allow your accommodation at no extra charge.
Can you have more than one ESA in Michigan?
Michigan doesn't have specific state or local laws that limit the number of ESAs you can have. Federal law does permit multiple ESAs, but they must be approved by a licensed mental health professional.
What restrictions can my landlord place on my emotional support animal in Michigan?
Landlords may object or place restrictions on your emotional support animal if the request isn't reasonable. Otherwise, they must accept your request without penalties.
Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.