ESA Letter for Housing Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Apr 16th 2023
Emotional support animals provide comfort and companionship to their owner, which helps them cope with anxiety and other mental health problems. Many buildings don’t allow pets unless they are classified as emotional support animals (ESA), but not just any pet can be certified as an emotional support animal.

An ESA letter must be written by a licensed medical professional. It’s not difficult to get an ESA letter if you meet the requirements, but you should be wary of scams. Here is a look at how to get an ESA letter for housing.

hash-markTable of Contents

How to Get an ESA Letter for Housing
Can a Physician Write an ESA Letter?
Do Emotional Support Animal Letters Expire?
Do ESA Letters Cost Money?
How To Get an ESA Letter Bottom Line

hash-markHow To Get an ESA Letter For Housing

  1. Choose a Provider
  2. Go Through the Pre-Screening Process
  3. Complete a Live Consultation
  4. Receive Your ESA Letter

1. Choose a Provider

The first thing you have to do is find a provider willing to write the ESA letter. If you’re already seeing a therapist or other mental health professional who is aware of any conditions that require an emotional support animal, they can write a letter for you. You can also ask your regular physician, although some may be reluctant if they are not familiar with your mental health history. If neither of these is an option, there are plenty of reputable websites and services where you can request an ESA letter, but you will have to do a consultation and answer several questions about your mental health.

2. Go Through the Pre-Screening Process

The next step is to go through the pre-screening process. Typically, you will be asked to fill out a quick form that will ask you questions about your mental health to determine if you are a good candidate for an emotional support animal. This screening questionnaire is confidential and will feature questions about you and your pet. Not everyone is a good candidate for an ESA, and not every pet is equipped to provide emotional support. This pre-screening will determine whether there is a legitimate need for an emotional support animal and whether the relationship is ideal for both you and your pet.

3. Complete a Live Consultation

If you pass the pre-screening, you will be asked to complete a live consultation with a licensed therapist. They will then verify whether or not you have a legitimate mental health problem that can be treated with the help of an emotional support animal. Some common mental health conditions that qualify include anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, ADHD, stress, and PTSD. During this live consultation, the therapist will confirm that you do in fact suffer from a mental health problem and that your animal legitimately helps you cope with the symptoms.  

4. Receive Your ESA Letter

If everything checks out, you should receive your ESA letter after the consultation. The letter will include the name of the licensed mental health professional who wrote it, the name and phone number of the practice, the type of medical license the doctor holds, and the date it was issued. It should not state any of your private medical issues, but it will state that you have a qualifying condition to receive an ESA Letter. Once you have the letter, you can present it to any landlord or property manager to prove that you need the pet for medical reasons.

hash-markCan a Physician Write an ESA Letter?

Only authorized medical professionals can write an official ESA letter. This could be your primary care physician, a licensed mental health professional (such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist), or a licensed general physician.

In most cases, it’s best to have a therapist or other mental health professional write the letter. They will be the best equipped to diagnose your problems and suggest the need for an emotional support animal. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to a therapist, your primary care doctor is another option. But they may refuse if they don’t feel like they know enough about your struggles with mental health. 

hash-markDo Emotional Support Animal Letters Expire?

Emotional support animal letters do not come with an official expiration date like a driver’s license. However, some landlords may refuse to accept any letter with an issue date over a year from when it was submitted. Therefore, most experts suggest having ESA letters renewed annually. 

The letter will feature the doctor’s contact information so the landlord can check the document's validity. If this contact info is out of date, the landlord may believe it’s fake or ask for an updated version. If you have a qualifying condition, then it shouldn’t be difficult to get a new letter. But you can avoid this awkward situation altogether by ensuring that your ESA letter is accurate and up to date before looking for new housing.

hash-markDo ESA Letters Cost Money? 

Yes, an ESA letter may cost you money. Organizations specializing in providing ESA letters typically charge around $100 to $150 for an assessment. If you go with your regular therapist or primary care doctor, they may not charge you an additional fee. But you are still paying for their services, either out of pocket or through your insurance.

But be wary of any organizations that charge an exorbitant fee for an ESA letter, especially if they don’t require a consultation with a licensed therapist. These are scams and likely won’t be accepted by a landlord. While there are plenty of legitimate outlets where you can get an ESA letter, you have to be careful of scams. Make sure to verify the credentials of the doctor and the organization before requesting an ESA letter from a third-party source. 

hash-markHow To Get an ESA Letter Bottom Line

Getting an ESA letter is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is get confirmation from a licensed therapist or doctor that they have a mental health condition requiring their pet's support. This confirmation can be affirmed in an ESA letter, an official document that certifies the need for an emotional support animal. Obtaining an ESA letter will make finding housing for you and your pet much easier.