ESA letters can be obtained in all states, as long as you consult with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) within your home state. Certain ESA rights, including access to fair housing, are enshrined in federal law. Nonetheless, regulations regarding ESAs can differ by state. While some states are incredibly ESA-friendly, others have more stringent guidelines.
How to Get an ESA Letter for Housing in 2024
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are protected for housing under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In order to protect your rights as an ESA owner you need an ESA letter as proof. To get an ESA letter speak with a licensed mental health professional licensed in your state. At Pettable, we can help connect you with one.
Do ESA Requirements Vary By State?
ESA law is constantly evolving, as such, requirements can differ between states. While ESAs are protected by certain federal laws, regulations might differ from state to state in terms of accessing ESA letters.
Below, we will explore some state-specific specifications for ESA letters.
States with Different Requirements for ESA Letters
Certain states have different requirements for ESA letters. Happily, knowledge is power, and understanding these nuances will ensure that you are fully equipped for your consultation and the ESA letter process in your specific state.
California Law AB-468
California Law AB-468 changed in 2022 and now specifies that ESA owners whose ESA is a dog must establish a client-provider relationship with the LMHP 30 days before they can write an ESA letter. This was enshrined in law to mitigate the possibility of practitioners rushing the process of determining ESA needs.
Furthermore, practitioners must include all their licensing details in the letter and must offer the client clear notice that ESAs do not qualify as service animals. Clients must know the difference between ESAs and service animals under this law. This same regulation also exists for people selling emotional support animals or any paraphernalia (such as harnesses or vests) related to ESAs. They must clearly state that the animal is an emotional support animal rather than a service animal.
As a reminder, service animals are trained to perform specific disability-related tasks, rather than solely providing comfort and support. All service animals are protected under the ADA.
Montana Law HB-703
This act revises certain ESA laws in Montana, allowing housing providers to request additional documentation for a tenant’s ESA request. However, landlords may not obtain private information which details the severity of the disability.
This new act also puts in place a similar requirement for a 30-day client-provider relationship with a licensed mental health professional prior to being written an ESA letter. The main difference is that this 30-relationship is required for all forms of ESAs, including cats, dogs, rabbits or any other emotional support animal.
Other Emotional Support Animal Laws By State
Several other states also have specific laws relating to ESAs
Florida Statutes Chapter 760
This piece of legislation acknowledges the legitimate need for ESAs and protects owners who need them. It also penalizes those who provide fake ESA letters or certificates or those who use them. This is ultimately an anti-fraud measure that seeks to ensure the legitimacy of ESA claims.
Texas Fair Housing Act
While there are no specific laws related to ESAs in the Texas Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals are still protected under the federal FHA. This safeguards those with ESAs against discrimination from housing providers who must make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for their ESA.
New York Human Rights Law
This law protects people against disability discrimination and includes individuals who rely on the support of ESAs. Under this law, housing providers in New York, including those who offer temporary or supportive housing (such as shelters) must make reasonable accommodations for ESAs. Much like the FHA, providers can refuse an ESA if it will cause “undue hardship to the housing provider.”
The Complete Guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws & Psychiatric Service Dog Laws
Are you wondering what rights you have as the owner of an emotional support animal or psychiatric service dog? Learn more in this comprehensive guide.
What Do California AB-468 & Montana HB-703 Mean?
California and Montana have specific stipulations around ESAs that affect the ESA letter consultation process.
What Do California AB-468 & Montana HB-703 Mean?
Both laws aim to regulate aspects of ESA law. These laws safeguard against hurried letters and state that clients must have a 30-day client-provider relationship with the therapist before they can write the ESA letter. This means that before the LMHP writes the letter, they should have an existing relationship with the client and understand their mental health disability and their reason for needing an ESA.
Montana's law provides further regulation that makes it possible for housing providers to obtain extra information when leasing a home to a tenant with an ESA and considering their request.
How Do I Get an ESA Letter in California or Montana?
To get an ESA letter in California or Montana, clients must book a consultation with an LMHP. The practitioner must determine that the client has a mental health disability that would benefit from an emotional support animal.
The process is similar in California and Montana, clients must form a 30-day relationship with the LMHP before they can write the ESA letter. Pettable can easily connect you to LMHP in your state. As per the law, consultations can be conducted in person or remotely, either online or by telephone.
What Qualifies as a 30-Day Client-Provider Relationship?
Any client-provider relationship that spans the full 30-day requirement qualifies under the California and Montana laws. This means that if you have a licensed mental health professional that you have consulted with over the span of at least 30 days the LMHP will be able to assess your qualification for and write you an ESA letter.
If you opt to acquire your ESA letter through Pettable this will mean that a 30-day relationship will need to be established with your assigned LMHP prior to receiving an ESA letter. As a result, if you live in Montana or California, you will attend two separate consultations, one thirty days after the other. On the second consultation, if the LMHP has deemed you to qualify for an ESA letter they will write you one. Unfortunately, this means we cannot offer an express ESA letter option in either Montana or California.
What is California’s Emotional Support Animal Law AB 468?
California passed a law affecting emotional support animals that comes into effect starting January 1st, 2022. This law requires ESA dog owners to have a 30 relationship with their mental health professional prior to being eligible to receive an ESA letter from them.