Everyday around here, we hear horror stories, read deceitful emails from our competition, and do our best to help regular everyday folks who have (incorrectly) placed their trust in online ESA vendors.
While we would appreciate the opportunity to earn your business, we offer you this advice in the hope of avoiding pitfalls and traps.
The Condo Commando’s Chilling Effect
Recently, an apartment front office required the tenant (who then, in turn, asked us) to complete a form (on a doctor’s letterhead) certifying their pet as a service animal and the doc (aka us) would testify to that in Court. We’ve also been asked to have documents such as these notarized.
All of this, we believe, is done as a chilling effect, raising the bar high enough to dissuade most tenants. Especially tenants who aren’t familiar with the FHAct.
Like most everyone, we’d think.
Keep in mind, we’re not lawyers, and we’re not in the business to give legal advice, so we’re unwilling to become involved in these sorts of scenarios, as they’re likely illegal (civilly, not criminally).
Here’s the bottom line.
- When presented with the proper documentation, property owners are required by Federal Law to provide you, and your ESA, reasonable accommodation.
- No other documentation is required, nor is it allowed by law.
In the end, we’re never EVER going to sign paperwork agreeing to lie, to deceive, to be duplicitous. We work hard around the office making sure we conduct ourselves honorably and ethically.
Beware of False Advertising
Recently, a favorite online vendor sent an email informing us, “Did you know that airlines are now requiring all travelers to bring their Emotional Support Animals in an approved ESA travel bag?”
And great news, they’ve got a bag to sell you — for $100!
A review of Southwest Airlines reveals (as we knew beforehand) there is no demand for this sort of nonsense. It’s all a money grab, a ruse to pad the ESA vendor’s bottom line.
So responding back, we ask for an explanation, to which they replied, “That’s actually becoming more true, as time goes by because of rising concerns for the safety of other passengers & Pets also on the plane. BUT it’s still not considered as Mandatory, as of now.”
First, it’s required. Now, it’s not mandatory, but becoming more true.
Unhappy with the reply, we email, “How was that not false advertising, and why would I want to do business with your company if you engage in such practices?
Never Use a Pet Certificate
Completely worthless — avoid using them at all cost, as they’re a dead giveaway you’ve dealt with a letter mill.
Never Bother To Register Your Dog
A Medical Doctor Needs to Sign the Letter
Here’s the governing Federal regulations for that, “Accordingly, persons who are seeking a reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal may be required to provide documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides support that alleviates at least one of the identified symptoms or effects of the existing disability.”
[see 24 CFR Part 5: Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities; Final Rule]”
Never Use An Out of State Therapist
Goes without saying.