[AUGUST 2020 UPDATE] HUD Issues New Guidance for Emotional Support Animal Letters

Updated October 20, 2020.

HUD's New Emotional Support Animal Letter Guidance.

FHEO-2020-01 Assistance Animal Notice states that housing provider may request reliable documentation to demonstrate a disability related need and that “documentation from the internet, is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability related-need for an assistance animal.”

Read: HUD Secretary Carson Seeks Federal Investigation Into ESA Websites.

This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) with respect to animals that individuals with disabilities may request as reasonable accommodations. These updates help address the gaps in past FHA rules which have been abused by those simply trying to bypass pet rules and fees, and others who have  been providing letters to exploited uneducated consumers.

HUD now requires medical/mental health care providers to have “personal client knowledge” of the client's disability and an active therapeutic relationship.

Therapeutic Relationship Now Required for Emotional Support Animal Guidance

A therapeutic relationship is “the provision of medical care, program care, or personal care services, in good faith, for and with actual knowledge of, an individual’s disability and that individual's disability-related need for an assistance animal. Because a therapeutic relationship requires that care services be provided, in good faith, for an individual’s disability, documentation submitted on the basis of a single visit to a health care provider solely to obtain a “doctor’s note” will generally be rejected.

Read: Our Provider Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing.

Equal Housing Opportunity.

We do not discriminate based on ancestry, race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin or military status. We do not give legal advice or replace the language of HUD guidelines, but promote the spirit of Fair Housing.

Every day, to the best of our ability, through understanding and good faith implementation, we follow FHEO guidelines, strictly adhere to a multitude of state laws, and apply industry-accepted best practices.

Long Overdue Changes.

“Everywhere you turn, you find sketchy clinicians, vendors, and clients. Fraud is rampant and appalling. Makes it tough for those of us who don't take shortcuts," said Chaz Stevens, CEO and former Deerfield Beach Housing Authority Commissioner.

“It’s about time Uncle Sam sent in the cavalry, hope they bring a big ol' fly swatter,” he added.

We have no affiliation with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD Notice FHEO-2020

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