How Many ESA Can You Have? The Ultimate Guide
Emotional support animals (ESAs) have become increasingly popular in recent years. These animals can provide comfort and support for individuals with mental or emotional disabilities. However, there is often confusion surrounding the number of ESAs a person can have. In this article, we will explore the rules and regulations surrounding ESAs and answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to this topic.
What is an ESA?
An ESA is a domesticated animal that provides emotional support to people with mental or emotional disabilities. These animals are prescribed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) and can be any species of animal, including cats, dogs, rabbits, and even miniature horses. The animal must provide comfort and support to its owner, and its presence should help alleviate symptoms of their disability.
What are the rules surrounding ESAs?
Unlike service animals, ESAs are not granted public access rights, and their owners are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must allow tenants to keep an ESA in their housing unit, even if the property has a no-pet policy. Additionally, under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), airlines must allow ESAs to travel with their owners in the cabin of the plane for free.
Do I Need a Letter to Have an ESA?
Yes, if you want to have an ESA, you will need a letter from a licensed mental health professional. This letter will state that you have a mental or emotional disability and that your ESA provides you with comfort and support. It is important to note that online services that provide “ESA letters” without an in-person evaluation by a licensed mental health professional are not valid.
Can My ESA Accompany Me Everywhere?
No, ESAs are not protected under the ADA and do not have public access rights. However, they are allowed in housing units and on flights. Some businesses may allow ESAs on their premises, but this is at the discretion of the business owner. It is always best to contact businesses ahead of time to inquire about their policies regarding ESAs.
How Many ESAs Can I Have?
There is no set limit on the number of ESAs a person can have. However, the LMHP writing the ESA letter should indicate how many ESAs are necessary to provide adequate emotional support. It is important to note that having multiple ESAs may raise questions about the legitimacy of the need for ESAs, and owners should be prepared to provide documentation supporting their need for each ESA.
Can I Have Multiple ESAs of Different Species?
Yes, it is possible to have multiple ESAs of different species. However, the LMHP writing the ESA letter should state that each animal is necessary and provides adequate emotional support. Owners with multiple ESAs may face additional questions regarding the legitimacy of their need for each animal, and should be prepared to provide documentation supporting their requests.
Can an ESA Be Denied?
Under the FHA and ACAA, landlords and airlines are required to allow ESAs. However, there are some exceptions. If the ESA is a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or would cause significant property damage, the landlord or airline may deny the request. Additionally, if the ESA is not properly trained and is not under the owner’s control, the request may be denied.
How Long is an ESA Letter Valid?
ESA letters typically last for one year. After this time, the owner must obtain a new letter from their LMHP. It is important to note that some airlines and landlords may require more recent documentation, and owners should check with these entities to ensure they have the necessary documentation.
What Should I Do if I Believe My ESA Rights Have Been Violated?
If you believe your ESA rights have been violated, you should contact an attorney with experience in disability rights. Additionally, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Transportation, depending on the situation.
ESAs can provide much-needed comfort and support for individuals with mental or emotional disabilities. While there are no set limits on the number of ESAs a person can have, it is important that each animal is necessary and provides adequate emotional support. Additionally, it is important to follow the rules and regulations surrounding ESAs and to be prepared to provide documentation supporting your need for an ESA.
Common Questions About ESAs
- Do I need a letter to have an ESA?
- Can my ESA accompany me everywhere?
- How many ESAs can I have?
- Can an ESA be denied?
- How long is an ESA letter valid?
- What should I do if I believe my ESA rights have been violated?
- “Emotional Support Animals.” Americans with Disabilities Act National Network, 2021. https://adata.org/factsheet/emotional-support-animals
- “Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA.” ADANational Network, 2021. https://adata.org/fact-sheet/service-animals-and-ADA
- “Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).” Fair Housing Act, 2021. https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/emotional_support_animals
- “Service Animal Access and Air Carrier Access Act.” U.S. Department of Transportation, 2021. https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/service-animal-access-and-air-carrier-access-act