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Is that Emotional Support Animal Letter Genuine?

Is that Emotional Support Animal Letter Genuine?

Emotional Support Animal Letters: Can You Spot a Fake?

Do you have a rental property with animal restrictions, but of course have a tenant who has provided you with an ESA letter? Or are you getting into real estate and wonder how this policy works? You have an emotional support animal that needs to be registered … If so, this is the article for you.

Emotional Support Animal: What Does That Mean?

An emotional support animal is an animal companion that offers some type of benefit to an individual with some form of disability. The disability may include anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, chronic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dogs are the most common ESA however cats and some other animals are included.

The benefits of having an ESA depend on what the needs are of the owner. These are just a few examples of what the animal can provide:

  • Less Anxiety
  • Improved Physical Health
  • Trauma Support
  • Reciprocal Care and Love

What to do when presented with a tenant’s ESA:

Now that you have a tenant who has an emotional support animal, it is not just up to the tenant to make sure their documentation is real and comes from a reputable company. The landlord needs to have the knowledge of how a certified ESA document is written and know the company that provided it is legitimate. Under federal and state rules, housing providers such as HOAs, co-ops, and landlords must reasonably accommodate emotional support animals with proper documentation.

A few examples of an official ESA letter provide the following:

  • The ability to live in no-pet homes and/or buildings.
  • Exclusion from weight size and restriction.
  • Exemption from pet related fees such as deposits and application fees.

Here is how you can determine a fake ESA letter.

  • The promise of cheap rates. An actual licensed mental health professional will have a cost and they usually do not provide a “cheap” rate.
  • The letter was not written by a licensed professional. The licensed professional should sign the letter, include their contact, and license information.
  • A certification method. There are no certifications that qualifies emotional support animals.
  • Immediate service or qualified letter. There is a process for a mental health professional to evaluate someone for an ESA. It is not instant.

As a property owner, you can request that the healthcare provider send you the ESA letter directly. In this case, you have open communication with them to ask any questions pertaining to the document, within legal guidelines.

Property owners can deny an ESA in certain conditions and under the following guidelines.

According to the Fair Housing act

    • When the housing for the animal is unreasonable, such as a horse stable, and is not properly taken care of.
    • The animal is trespassing on the rights of others and/or causes harm or danger.
    • If the ESA letter has expired.
    • When the overall requests are unreasonable, and the ESA is an excuse/scam.
    • Not a domesticated animal.

**Please advise legal counsel before taking any action against a tenant. Make sure to know the laws and legal rights of the tenant, as well as yourself.

If you are looking to become a landlord and have rental properties, please consider Legacy’s Income Properties course so you can learn how your investment properties can lead to creating multiple streams of income so you can adjust better to changes in market trends. Income properties allow you to build long-term wealth and create passive income for today and tomorrow with all the different ways you can take advantage of buy and hold strategies.

Whether you are a landlord or wanting to become one, we at Legacy hope this article gave you some insight to the world of Emotional Support Animals and what rights the tenants and property owners have. We look forward to seeing you in our courses either online or live!

Areas of Review


Big picture takeaway points

  1. The importance of knowing the legitimacy of ESA.
  2. Understanding the laws and rights about having a tenant or being a tenant with an ESA.
  3. How to determine a fake ESA letter or certificate.


Self-reflection questions to think more about the content

  1. If you are a property owner, do you know the laws pertaining to ESA?
  2. Would it benefit you and your business to allow animals in/on your properties?
  3. Are your properties animal friendly?

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