So, What Is An Emotional Support Animal?
Here Is Everything You Need To Know About Emotional Support Animals
While many tenants have domestic animals such as cats or dogs, some may require an emotional support animal. Although an emotional support animal can be a cat or a dog, they are more than just your normal pet. An ESA is an additional subscription for patients who struggle with mental health or disabilities. It also provides therapeutic and remedial companionship to someone struggling with a mental disorder. Not only does an ESA offer restorative and comforting support, but they also aid in-home healthcare.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS AND SERVICE DOGS
In 2010 a new law was introduced, making it unlawful for landlords to refuse assistance dogs in rental property. Meaning that “even if the landlord has a no pet policy, they can not refuse a prospective tenant with a guide dog”. This law has tremendously benefited tenants who have assistant dogs over the years, whereas those who require an ESA continue to face challenges with housing. There are no laws that recognize ESA’s. For this reason, a landlord with a “no pet clause” can refuse a prospective tenant with an ESA. Alternatively, prospective tenants with an ESA can receive a signed letter from a licensed mental health professional. The letter should provide credible evidence that their diagnosis requires an ESA.
The letter is considered as a ‘reasonable adjustment’. A reasonable adjustment is part of the equality act 2010. It provides prospective tenants with disabilities access to a rental property with additional adjustments, that accommodates their disability. Adjustments such as ramps or accessible door handles. Even brightly coloured walls just to name a few! An emotional support animal, ESA, also qualifies.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT LETTER
Every landlord a tenant encounters is different. Depending on the nature of your relationship, you can inform them of your ESA through conversation. However, we advise a written letter, as it is more formal. The letter must cover all bases, including why this request is justifiable. At Clooper, we have got your back! Here is what an ESA letter should include.
- Your medical diagnosis i.e (depression)
- The type of animal
- The way the animal supports you
- How you will keep the animal in control in the property
- License and name of mental health professional
- Date license was issued
- Phone number of practise
- Name of the practice
- Date letter was issued
Covering all these topics in concise writing should help grant you the ability to have your ESA in your new property. As well as this, the letter puts your landlord at ease. Ultimately answering queries your landlord most likely is wondering before they even ask them!
THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
The Fair Housing Act protects ESA owners. Consequently, The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to forbid housing solely based on disability. Disabilities such as visual impairment or a mental health condition. The act alongside an ESA letter should grant a prospective tenant the ability to move into a property with their ESA. If a Landlord were to receive an ESA letter, they should aim to accommodate the tenant. Ultimately, the landlord is the one responsible for paying for the requested changes made. However, the request may be declined by a landlord. Should the landlord consider the request “too unreasonable”, they have the right to refuse and provide alternatives.
HOW LANDLORDS CAN ACCOMODATE A TENANT WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT NEEDS
For landlord’s, it may be easier to make physical changes to accommodate your tenant with a physical disability. Changes such as painting the wall a brighter colour. Or fixing lighting with 60-100 watts. And / or providing sheer curtains. Alternatively, a tenant who requires a wheelchair might be provided with a non-fix ramp at the front door. Or given more accessible furniture such as a lower bed.
However, accommodating a tenant with a mental disorder, the approach is different. Accommodating might be provided through your actions, such as kindness. Furthermore, being kind landlord will help build a healthy rapport with your tenant. It may also help benefit their mental wellbeing. The last thing a tenant who suffers from mental health needs is additional stress from their landlord. Make space for empathy. Understand that your tenant is going through mental health issues that make them more vulnerable. And / or makes them forgetful to certain requirements at times or prioritise things differently. It is likely that they are nervous about sharing their needs with you, or worried about being so open, so your understanding will definitely be a great relief and a welcomed kindness.
Allow yourself to learn by asking questions. If you have any concerns or queries be open with your tenant, this may help the both of you. Treat them like you would any other tenant. It is easy to feel alienated when suffering from a mental illness, so make sure to treat your tenant like you would any other human being. Remember, so long as you are trying, that is all that matters. Do not be forceful and allow this to be a natural process of aid and accommodation.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
In summary, ESA’s are significantly helping those who struggle with a mental health diagnosis, providing comfort and companionship. With the help of The Fair Housing Act, prospective tenants with ESA can move into a property with little to no stepbacks from their landlords. However, ESA, are still not legally recognised in the UK.
At Clooper we believe everyone should have a happy at home experience. If you are interested in being a part of the change, click here. If you struggle with mental health such as anxiety, you are not alone. Click here for us to support you to combat your frayed nerves today, and remember that even the rainiest days pass, even if it takes a while. You got this!