FHEO 2020-01 – HUD Issues New Guidance for Emotional Support Animal Letters

New Laws Tighten ESA Rules.

New Federal and state rules designed to combat online fraud now require a much higher burden of proof for those claiming a disability-related need for an emotional support animal letter.

Patches, ID cards, certificates, or similar registration will no longer suffice. Clinicians are prohibited from providing written documentation by merely assessing a client's need for an assistance animal. Landlords are reporting emotional support animal fraud to the US Department of Justice.

From HUD's Update.

The dangers of buying counterfeit emotional support animal letters aren’t always obvious. There are economic impacts, legal implications, and other risks that are important for you to know before making a purchase. Counterfeiters don’t care about your well-being. They just want to make a profit.

"Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee."

In 2020, these counterfeit documents are being summarily rejected by housing providers across the US.

Attention Clients, Don't Leave Anything to Chance.

Housing Pro 2020 fully complies with the recently updated guidance requiring providers to have “personal client knowledge" and an "ongoing treating relationship."

All of our products include therapeutic care with a licensed clinician in your area.

The new rules are an update to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) that sought to equalize the ability of people with disabilities to enjoy housing. Under the law, housing providers had to exempt those with disabilities from “no pet” rules and pet fees. But some of the gaps in the rules have been abused by those simply trying to bypass pet rules and fees. Others who are providing the letters have exploited uneducated consumers.

Some in the industry are applauding the new restrictions.

“Twenty-two dollar documents, deceitful business practices, unlicensed and unethical therapists, pets becoming service animals by clicking ‘submit’ — I see it every day,” said Chaz Stevens, CEO and founder of ESAD Intl., which offers emotional support animal letters worldwide. He’s concerned the fake operators will undermine the legitimacy of a vital service, a lifeline, really, for the truly disabled who legitimately need accommodations.

“It’s about time Uncle Sam sent in the cavalry,” he added.

FHEO 2020 - Assistance Animals Notice

The “Assistance Animals Notice” issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 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.

 FHEO-2020-01 notice states that a 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.”

HUD clarifies that a letter from a medical provider should indicate that the person has “personal client knowledge” of the disability.

Housing Pro 2020 ™

Offered in both Standard and Premium editions, Housing Pro 2020 fully complies with recently updated HUD Fair Housing guidance requiring providers to have “personal client knowledge" and an "ongoing treating relationship."

Shopping Around for an ESA Letter

HUD's latest guidance was designed to specifically address the rampant online fraud too easily found when shopping for an emotional support animal letter.

Our pro-tip to avoid getting scammed? Make sure your vendor/practitioner-of-choice is up to speed on FHEO-2020.  Ask them how they comply, ask them to explain HUD's guidance, ask them how they gain "personal client knowledge" and an "ongoing treating relationship."

And don't be surprised if you're greeted with silence or deception. Most online vendors should not be in this business, and hopefully HUD's latest efforts will help address just that.

HUD Notice

Download FHEO 2020