ESA Letters and Signed Forms

I need a reasonable accommodation form.

Many landlords require tenants to submit a “reasonable accommodation form.” Each form is unique — some are simple affairs, others not so. Often, we encounter questions that, in our opinion, are likely discriminatory.

A correctly answered reasonable accommodation form is essential. Recognizing this, we retain a fair housing law expert to process these documents.

You can order our reasonable accommodation form service here.

Can my landlord refuse my reasonable accommodation request?

Only in certain circumstances. If the animal’s accommodation could mean additional administrative costs and other adjustments that would affect housing arrangements, then the landlord might refuse your request. For instance, the animal is disruptive or poses a threat to the health, safety, and property of the other tenants. Make sure to train your ESA so they are not unruly and you are always in control.

ESADoggy also accepts no responsibility and makes no guaranty regarding the approval or denial of specific privileges or access in regards to any emotional service animal. Submission of payment and your assessment constitutes acceptance of these and all terms set forth herein.

What is ESAGuard?

With ESAGuard, if you’re ever denied a reasonable accommodation using our products, we’ll immediately refund all of your money. Certain restrictions apply. In particular, you must have purchased and completed therapeutic sessions (see above).

[Not all letters are created equal — visit our bad letter library and see for yourself.]

Can you speak to my landlord?

Housing providers are now, more often, demanding the existence of a therapeutic relationship — in particular, landlords will question when therapy began and number of sessions completed / scheduled. This is the current method (spring 2018) being retained to weed out Internet letter-mill documents.

If you purchase an assessment, choose not to engage in any follow-up sessions, and want us to speak with your landlord, you assume all risk and liability if your reasonable accommodation request is denied.

Before our team can communicate (talk, answer questions via email) with your landlord, you must purchase this option and a signed HIPAA waiver must be in place. This waiver allows us to discuss your protected health information (PHI) with a third party.

Are your letters legit?

Our letters are contain every element required by law and are fully compatible with the latest Federal and air carrier guidelines.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

Will my contact information be included in the letters I would fill out?

Your licensure is listed on all letters.

Do you guarantee all domestic airlines and property managers will accept your treatment recommendation letter?

No, unfortunately not.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit an emotionally disabled handler to keep an emotional support animal (ESA). That doesn’t mean they won’t inadvertently or intentionally break the law and deny a disabled person the right to have an ESA, however.

Similarly, the Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705 and Dept of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382 requires airlines to allow a disabled person to be accompanied by their ESA in the cabin of the aircraft and not be charged a fee. Airline companies are allowed to require the disabled passenger to present a treatment recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional to bring the ESA on board. Several airline companies have been sued and forced to change their practices over the years for arbitrarily electing to discriminate against disabled passengers.

Any company who makes an arbitrary decision without foundation and approval from the U.S. Justice Department is in violation of federal law, and we cannot guarantee that any public entity, airline company, or property manager will not willfully or inadvertently break federal law as it regards emotional support animals. Everyone knows that it is illegal to steal a car, but the car thief will continue stealing until he is caught and prosecuted.

Is your ESA letter acceptable to my landlord?

Thanks to the Federal Fair Housing Act, with few exceptions, any person prescribed an ESA letter must be offered reasonable accommodations. Our ESA letter will allow you to bypass size/size restrictions, and avoid additional pet security deposits. However, you are still responsible for your pet’s behavior; the ESA letter will not absolve you from any damages caused by your animal.

What’s the duration of my ESA Letter?

They’re good for one calendar year. Annual updates are provided at a discount rate.

Travel Letter

Can I bring my ESA to hotels?

The law does not require hotels, restaurants, trains, and buses to accept emotional support animals on their premises but you could call them ahead of your trip and ask about their policy.

Some establishments are open to receiving emotional support animals at their discretion.

I’m Canadian, can I get an ESA travel letter?

Yes, but please note the housing and airline ESA letters are written per US federal laws (FHA and ACAA). We cannot make any assurances that they would work for airline travel or housing in Canada.

Tell me about those signed airline forms.

If you’re traveling on the following airlines (see below), mental health care providers must now certify (a) they’re currently treating the passenger’s emotional disability and (b) the passenger is under their current and ongoing professional care.

And, depending on the airline, a specific signed form may also be required.

  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines

What is ESAGuard?

With ESAGuard, if you’re ever denied a reasonable accommodation using our products, we’ll immediately refund all of your money. Certain restrictions apply. In particular, you must have purchased and completed therapeutic sessions (see above).

[Not all letters are created equal — visit our bad letter library and see for yourself.]

Are your letters legit?

Our letters are contain every element required by law and are fully compatible with the latest Federal and air carrier guidelines.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

Can your therapists sign a Medical Information Form (MEDIF)?

No, absolutely categorically not.

You may be asked for proof of your “fitness to fly” when requesting assistance. If you have a stable condition, there is generally no need to be cleared for travel.

There are usually two parts to the medical clearance process:

  1. You will be asked to provide information about your situation or condition and, for many passengers, this will be all you will need to complete.
  2. If the airline has concerns about how flying might impact your particular condition, it will ask you to complete a further form.

You may also be asked to provide medical proof at this stage, often a doctor’s note.

The ESADoggy Protocol does not allow any of our therapists to sign off on this form.

Are airlines enforcing stricter criteria for ESAs?

Airlines are now requiring passengers to be under the therapist’s care and treatment. That immediately rules out “assessments only.” Clients purchasing our travel letters and need a signed airline travel form are required to purchase a 30-minute session … in that session, a therapist will delve into the reason why the client/passenger needs the animal’s assistance. In that limited session, the therapist is not trying to solve the passenger’s trouble with Mom, their struggle with substance abuse, etc. Our protocol is to stay on the task at hand, and that’s focusing on the necessity of the assistance animal.

Airline verification, which has been increasing, requires the client/passenger to provide written HIPAA-waiver allowing our therapist to discuss PHI with a third-party.

Will my contact information be included in the letters I would fill out?

Your licensure is listed on all letters.

Can two dogs travel with me?

Maybe.

Although we can’t guarantee that all airlines will allow two or more ESAs per handler without exception, it is common practice for them to allow two small animals to fly in the cabin of the aircraft with their disabled handler. It’s a good idea to consult with the airline you’ll be using to let them know you’ll be traveling with two ESAs and want to make sure there will be no problems.

That being said, because of the “peacock on the airplane,” airlines are much more stringent.

And so are we.

Do you guarantee all domestic airlines and property managers will accept your treatment recommendation letter?

No, unfortunately not.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit an emotionally disabled handler to keep an emotional support animal (ESA). That doesn’t mean they won’t inadvertently or intentionally break the law and deny a disabled person the right to have an ESA, however.

Similarly, the Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705 and Dept of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382 requires airlines to allow a disabled person to be accompanied by their ESA in the cabin of the aircraft and not be charged a fee. Airline companies are allowed to require the disabled passenger to present a treatment recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional to bring the ESA on board. Several airline companies have been sued and forced to change their practices over the years for arbitrarily electing to discriminate against disabled passengers.

Any company who makes an arbitrary decision without foundation and approval from the U.S. Justice Department is in violation of federal law, and we cannot guarantee that any public entity, airline company, or property manager will not willfully or inadvertently break federal law as it regards emotional support animals. Everyone knows that it is illegal to steal a car, but the car thief will continue stealing until he is caught and prosecuted.

If the airlines or property manager calls your office to verify the letter and confirm that the therapist is appropriately licensed, do you answer those calls?

No.

Unless there’s a signed HIPAA waiver allowing discussions with a third-party, we’ll never share your information with anyone.

What’s the duration of my ESA Letter?

They’re good for one calendar year. Annual updates are provided at a discount rate.

Will your ESA letter allow my animal to fly with me?

Traveling with your ESA is one of the greatest benefits of our ESA letter; however, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your pet must be well-behaved and not be unruly. We recommend calling your airline before takeoff and let them know an ESA will be accompanying you.

Reasonable Accommodation Forms

What is a Reasonable Accommodation Form?

Housing Providers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation in their rules, policies practices and procedures and allow reasonable modifications (changes to the physical structure) for qualified individuals (persons with disabilities) as defined by law.

When considering a reasonable accommodation/modification request a Housing Provider can only take the following into consideration: ™

Is the individual (or the intended tenants of the housing) which is the subject of the request, qualified? (Is the individual a person with a disability as defined by law or is the housing designed to serve persons who are disabled as defined by law?) ™

Is the request for a accommodation or modification necessary? (This is not determined by the Housing Provider but by the individual pr developer of the housing and confirmation can be requested to be provided by a medical health professional.) ™

Would the requested accommodation impose an undue financial or administrative burden? (For a modification this in only considered if the modification is to be paid for by the housing provider. Please consult HUD or DFEH to determine if the Housing Provider is required to pay for the modification.) ™

Would the requested accommodation or modification require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program?

The Housing Provider should not ask about the nature or severity of the disability in question. The Housing Provider need only consider whether or not the request is ‘reasonable’ in terms of cost and alteration of their housing program. They may ask questions which will clarify what it is about the policy, practice or procedure that serves as a barrier (so that the housing provider may offer an alternative ‘solution’ if the requested accommodation is not ‘reasonable’.) They should not attempt to determine whether or not the request is necessary for the individual(s) in question. That is up to the individual and their advisors.

Who must comply with this requirement?

The requirement to provide reasonable accommodations applies to, but is not limited to individuals, corporations, associations and others involved in the provision of housing or residential lending, including property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations, lenders, real estate agents, and brokerage services. This also applies to state and local governments, most often in the context of exclusionary zoning or other land-use decisions

Who is a person with a disability?

The Fair Housing Act defines a person with a disability to include (1) individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment; and (3) individuals with a record of such an impairment.

This may include, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism.

The term “major life activity” means those activities that are of central importance to daily life, such as seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, and speaking.8 This list of major life activities is not exhaustive

When is a reasonable accommodation necessary?

A requested accommodation is necessary when there is an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the individual’s disability. Some examples of Reasonable Accommodations are:

  • Assigned parking space for a person with a mobility impairment
  • Assigned lower mailbox for a person who uses a wheelchair
  • Permitting an assistance animal in a “no pets building for a person who is deaf, blind, has seizures, or has a mental disability

What is an assistance animal?

An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support.

For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the Fair Housing Act nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified.5 While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.

What information may a provider seek when a reasonable accommodation is requested?

A provider is entitled to obtain information that is necessary to evaluate if a requested reasonable accommodation may be necessary because of a disability. If a person’s disability is obvious, or otherwise known to the provider, and if the need for the requested accommodation is also readily apparent or known, then the provider may not request any additional information. 

If the disability and/or the disability-related reason for the requested accommodation is not known or obvious, the requesting individual, medical professional, a peer support group, a non-medical service agency, or a reliable third party who is in a position to know about the individual’s disability may also provide verification of a disability. In most cases, an individual’s medical records or detailed information about the nature of a person’s disability is not necessary for this inquiry. 

When may a housing provider refuse to provide a requested accommodation?

A housing provider can deny a request for a reasonable accommodation if the request was not made by or on behalf of a person with a disability or if there is no disability-related need for the accommodation. In addition, a request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied if providing the accommodation is not reasonable – i.e., if it would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider or it would fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations. The determination of undue financial and administrative burden must be made on a case-by-case basis involving various factors, such as the cost of the requested accommodation, the financial resources of the provider, the benefits that the accommodation would provide to the requester, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would effectively meet the requester’s disability-related needs.

When a housing provider refuses a requested accommodation because it is not reasonable, the provider should discuss with the requester whether there is an alternative accommodation that would effectively address the requester’s disability-related needs without a fundamental alteration to the provider’s operations and without imposing an undue financial and administrative burden.  These discussions often results in an effective accommodation for the requester that does not pose an undue financial and administrative burden for the provider.

What about charging fees to cover the cost of providing an accommodation?

Housing providers may not require persons with disabilities to pay extra fees or deposits as a condition of receiving a reasonable accommodation.

Can you notarize my letters and forms?

We are not lawyers, and the following should have not considered the legal advice.

As Federal Law does not require the signature on a reasonable accommodation form to be notarized, our therapists do not have the ability to notarize that document. Based on our understanding of Fair Housing Act requirements, the notarization is an “extra” hurdle that’s placed in front of an individual with a disability, and therefore not allowed.

Travel Form

Signed Confirmation of Training Form

Most air carriers have a somewhat amorphous policy that, in lieu of requiring physical documentation, suggests they will assess the animal’s behavior upon check-in to determine if your pet is well-trained enough to fly. This evaluation is vague and can vary not just from airline to airline, but from employee to employee. That said, Delta is now asking for a more concrete statement: a form that affirms your pet has been trained to behave in a public setting and takes direction upon command. (We’d like to see an emu roll over or play dead.) Though they don’t ask for an actual certificate or the name of a licensed trainer, the form does push you as a passenger to take on more personal responsibility. As with the Veterinary Health Form, all signs indicate United will soon follow with a similar procedure.

Veterinary Certification of Animal’s Health

In general, you should carry a copy of your animal’s most recent vaccination records with you at all times when traveling, as a precaution. Delta and United both require a licensed vet to fill out a Veterinary Health Form, where they provide their license and contact information, as well as the specific dates when your animal was given vaccinations for rabies and distemper.

Signed Medical or Mental Health Professional Document

This piece of documentation is the only one you’re required to obtain for all domestic air carriers. Delta, United, and American each provide a downloadable form to have completed by your medical doctor or mental health professional. Fields include proof of license, assurance that you have a psychological need for the animal, contact information, and a signature. JetBlue and Southwest ask for similar information submitted on an official letterhead. On April 19, Alaska Airlines implemented a new policy, saying passengers “must provide animal health and behavioral documents, as well as a signed document from a medical doctor or mental health professional, at least 48 hours in advance of departure” for all flights departing on or after May 1. United followed suit on March 1, and with American flights starting July 1, you’ll have to “contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.”