For those who own any type of pet, you likely already know the difficulties and challenges that come with finding a practical home to lease or rent. This is because many landlords forbid the ownership of an animal in their home, for an array of reasons ranging from potential damages that they may cause, or perhaps because they simply do not like animals. This can become a real obstacle when looking for a place to live, especially if you already own a dog, cat, or any other type of pet, as many landlords may refuse you immediately after learning of your companion.
Fortunately, however, pet owners have a strong ally in their favor when it comes to these situations, and that ally takes shape in the form of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter. These certifications provide justification to the landlord that your animal is for the purposes of well-being and happiness in your life, and grants legitimacy to the ownership of one. When presented with an ESA letter, most landlords are legally required to accept it regardless of their personal feelings, although a few exemptions still apply in which the landlord has the right to refuse it. When it comes to attaining and presenting an ESA letter for housing, there are certain things to consider in order to ensure that the process goes smoothly and without roadblocks. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to attain the certification.
The Fair Housing Act
In 1968, Congress passed a law entitled the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which forbade landowners from discriminating against potential renters on an array of grounds. This included a bias toward people based on their gender, race, color, religion or the country in which they originated from. The bill holds an array of other specifics about what cannot be discriminated against, and one of these includes that of those who have pets and have justification from a medical professional for owning these animals.
In this regard, most pets become legal in most domiciles, however, there are still certain guidelines in which the landlord holds authority. These include a building with 4 or less units wherein the landlord is one of the occupants of the building; single-family homes in which the home buyer does not enlist a real estate agent in the purchase or renting of the home; as well as housing areas that are owned by organizations and groups that are used for the sole purpose of their members. If you own a pet and are looking to move into a location, make sure that the FHA covers your animal, in order to ensure that the landlord is unable to discriminate.
Attaining an ESA Letter for Housing
This is one of the most important aspects, as many people have little understanding of where to get the certification, and where to steer clear from. With the onset of ESA animals becoming so popular, many online services have sprung up that claim they provide legitimate letters. However, many of these are outright scams, and their certifications hold no legal backing. For animal owners looking to obtain these letters, the best option is often to find a legitimate therapist and ask these individuals for the letter.
Only in circumstances where letters are attained from medical professionals is it credible to use, and without such, can cause many headaches and obstacles along the way. When doing your research, make sure that you do not get caught up with these scams, and that you take the time to go in-person, to meet with a medical professional and get the documentation needed for your pet.
Benefits of having an ESA Letter for Housing
Aside from the apparent fact that you cannot be discriminated against by landlords for owning an animal, the ESA letter for housing can also help you save money when renting a home at the same time that you own a pet. One of the great benefits that come with the letter is that you become exempt from any pet deposits that the landlord may be trying to impose on you.
Often times, in situations where landlords allow pets, to begin with, they require that a deposit is put down on top of the security deposit, which is aimed to ensure the property in case of any damages or issues that the animal may cause in the time that you live there. However, having a legitimate ESA certification makes you exempt from having to pay this amount of money, and any attempt by the landlord to receive these funds from you is considered illegal under the legal framework.
Informing Your Landlord of an ESA Letter
Whether you are already living in the specific apartment or home, or if you are just starting to get the paperwork going with the landlord, informing them about your pet and the ESA may be a bit confusing in terms of when and how to present the letter. The ESA can be given to the landlord either before or after the signing of the lease, and it is not necessarily required of you to inform the landlord prior to signing that you own an animal. If you already live in the given apartment, the Fair Housing Act protects you from being wrongfully evicted on the account of the animal, especially when the landlord is adverse to pets, to begin with. Understanding this process is crucial to ensuring a smooth and positive relationship upon moving in, and going forward, with the landlord of the property.
When it comes to attaining and presenting an ESA letter to your landlord, it is clear that the process may be confusing and daunting for some. However, arming yourself with the proper amount of information and knowledge that will reduce this confusion is vital to getting the right treatment, and reducing the anxiety that may come with the ESA letter presentation. Consider learning more about the process as a whole, researching more insight into the FHA, and other similar measures, that will ultimately lead you to understand exactly what your rights are, and so no landlord can take advantage of the ESA certification.
Get Your Emotional Support Letter Online or in-person call to schedule your Housing ESA letter appointment at (415) 966-0848