California Emotional Support Animal letters of recommendation (“ESA letters”) level the playing field, protecting individuals from “no-pets allowed” policies that can otherwise restrict your housing options, and will widen your options for air travel.
With the proper California Emotional Support Animal letter, you will avoid those fees, possibly avoid eviction, gain peace of mind, and know your rights are protected under the law.
California Emotional Support Animal Law
There’s a movement afoot to draft similar legal protections governing the use of California emotional support animals.
These newer regulations, more narrow in scope than service animal laws, introduce complexities in particular circumstances. In the end, California emotional support animals owners enjoy greater privileges than those of companion pets.
Why don’t you speak to one of our licensed mental health care professionals to see if they think a California ESA is the right option for you. You may find that you could be spending a lot more time with your favorite furry friend while helping you deal with day to day struggles.
A study by the World Health Organization found that people who had diabetes, angina, asthma, or arthritis were more likely to suffer from depression than people without these conditions.
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What is a California Emotional Support Animal?
Legal problems can sometimes bubble up when dealing with the nuanced differences between service and support animals.
Service animals, which are traditionally dogs and horses, are highly trained to perform a particular skill, for example detecting a seizure, pulling a wheelchair, and guidance for the visually challenged.
Comparatively, emotional support animals (dogs, rats, cats, birds, and others) require no specialized training (FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Specialized documentation proving the disability and the need for the support animal may be required in some instances.
Many Association Attorneys believe that unless you are deaf or deaf, your reasonable accommodation request is fraudulent. The ADA defined an individual’s disability is a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to: “…caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.”
ESA housing letter
The Emotional Support Animal housing letter entitles you to qualify for no-pet housing (in apartments with more than 4 units and houses where the landlord owns multiple properties). This means that even if an apartment is listed as not allowing pets, you are legally protected to have one.
Also, you won’t have to pay a pet deposit and can’t be charged a pet fee.
An Emotional Support Animal housing letter of recommendation provides you with:
- Professional recognition that you’re under the care of a licensed mental health professional’s care for a mental disability.
- Acknowledgment that your life is limited by a disability such as anxiety or a similar condition.
- A recommendation for an emotional support dog is a necessary mental health reinforcement.
Specific Protections: Emotional Support Animal Laws In California.
Emotional support animals, like service animals, are protected by Federal and California state law in travel and housing. Though, support animals do not enjoy the same public places protection.
Emotional Support Animal California Housing Laws
Federal Law requires landlord to allow tenants to live with their psychiatric service dogs and emotional support animals.
In practice, this means renters cannot be charged a pet deposit, nor evicted (excluding certain rare exceptions).
Landlords can require documentation supporting the need for a service or support animal. However, as no training is required for a support animal, there’s no need for any time of “animal” certification.
Emotional Support Animal California Travel Laws
In the air, the strict rules of the Federal Air Carrier Access Act govern emotional support animals.
Folks flying with a support animal must have written documentation from a licensed mental health professional declaring the traveler’s disability and the need for the animal. This letter must be issued within the past year, on the professional’s letterhead, and indicate the type of provided health care. Typically, airlines require at least 48 hours notice you’re traveling in the company of a support animal.
ESA Travel Letter
With the travel letter, you will also be able to fly with your pet in the cabin with no additional fee.
Per Federal guidelines, your ESA Travel Letter (written within the last year on the doctor’s letterhead) will contain important data points informing the reader (landlord, airline, etc.) that you are:
- A current patient of the mental health provider who’s writing the letter
- You’re under their care and treatment of a mental or emotional disability that’s outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version IV or V
- Your emotional disability restricts you from daily participating or completing at least one significant activity
- The recommendation of an Emotional Support Animal is an important part of your mental health treatment
Exceptions to Emotional Support Animal California Law
Emotional support animals are not granted unlimited legal protection. In California, only service animals, and not support animals, are offered unfettered access to a public place.
Landlords also have the very limited ability to deny support animals, if the animal poses a threat to the safety or health others or would cause substantial property damage.
This exception is not based on breed or size; the threat to property or safety must be specific to the animal in question.
On the other hand, the amount of damage done by an animal need not be substantial if it is unreasonable. (See, e.g., Woodside Village v. Hertzmark, FH-FL Rptr. ¶ 18,129 (Conn. Sup. Ct. 1993), where failing to clean up or walk the dog in designated areas resulted in a proper eviction).
Should your disability’s treatment require an emotional support animal, there are Federal Laws that protect you. These laws are relatively new on the books, so it’s probably best to research Federal laws on the matter: The Fair Housing Act, the Air Carriers Access Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ESA Letters: What you need to read
Here's what you need to know to secure a legitimate emotional support animal letter.
How this works: In three easy steps, you'll place an order, take an online exam, and chat with a local licensed therapist. Here's a guide to how that works.
How to qualify: An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is recognized as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act. Two different federal laws regulate emotional support animal letters. Here's how we go about qualifying clients.
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