An Overview of HUD - Housing Rules for an Emotional Support Animal

In 2020, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development added new rules for emotional support animals in fair housing.

These rules cover major things like what counts as a service animal. They also talk about special forms that airlines need to confirm that the animal is healthy and behaves well. These guidelines might be a good thing for ESA owners because there has been no update since 2013.

Starting in January 2020, new rules replaced the old ones. This article, referring to the new rules, tells you when you can and when you can’t have your emotional support animal accompany you.

What is the Fair Housing Act Issued by HUD?

Here's some quick information for people who don't know about the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act is a very important law. It means that there is no discrimination in housing based on religion, color, or nationality. Also, it is not legal to refuse accommodation for someone with a disability.

If you have mental health conditions like depression, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder, you can have an emotional support animal, proven by an ESA letter. An ESA letter should be authorized by a licensed doctor or therapist.

Owners with an ESA letter for housing have these rights under the fair housing act:

  • Emotional support animals are allowed in every type of housing, even if the building does not allow pets.
  • ESAs are different from normal pets. Under the fair housing act, they are not treated the same as normal pets. They are also different from service animals. These animals work or perform tasks for a physically disabled person.
  • Landlords and property managers cannot keep people from owning an ESA. They can't decide which breeds or weights of ESAs they won't allow. They can’t fundamentally alter the person’s choice for an ESA.

The Department of Housing has set new rules for ESA accommodations. This is because there were increasing complaints from tenants. The Department of Housing has responded to these complaints by issuing new guidelines for ESA accommodations. If there is still any ambiguity or a landlord denies you your rights, you can always seek legal advice.

What are the Updated Rules Issued by HUD?

The new guidelines from HUD confirm the old rules and give even more protections to owners for living with an emotional support animal. The new rules answer some of the most common questions about housing for ESA owners.

Here are some facts about the updated rules that all ESA owners should know:

  1. 1. No ESA discrimination based on their color, size, or breed

    In the new rules, HUD says that landlords cannot refuse ESAs. This means they can't say you can't have a big animal or a big breed of an animal. But they could object if there is a good reason.

    For example, if you have an ESA that becomes aggressive towards others, your landlord can refuse to let you keep it.

    The new rules from HUD state that landlords cannot charge extra fees or deposits for people with ESAs. This is true even if the building charges a monthly fee for normal pets. But, landlords can charge if your ESA causes damage to the property or the people living around.

  2. 2. Landlords need to respond to their tenant’s ESA request within 10 days

    According to the government, landlords should reply to your request within 10 days. If you are asking for an ESA accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, they can't deny it unless you pose a direct threat to someone.

  3. 3. Landlords cannot ask for a special form or demand something unreasonable

    Tenants sometimes have problems with landlords. A landlord will ask for special forms in addition to the ESA letter or have additional requirements from a health care professional.

    If your landlord is asking you for more forms or sensitive details about your health, there is good news for you.

    Tenants are now protected under the housing law if the landlord asks the healthcare professional to provide information not covered by fair housing rules.

    HUD says that it's the responsibility of the medical professional to provide accurate information. Landlords should rely on what they say about your disability, and if it fulfills the standards of an authentic emotional support animal letter, landlords cannot ask for more information.

  4. 4. Landlords can not ask for invasive details from the tenant

    It has been observed that landlords ask for personal information during the rental process. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) clarified that landlords are not allowed to ask for specific details about the tenant's condition, before accepting the accommodation request.

    HUD also stated that landlords cannot know the tenant's diagnosis or other information about their medical condition.

  5. 5. HUD clarified the ESA accommodation request procedure

    Many people who have an ESA want to know when and how to ask the landlord for help. The answer is that they can send in either a written or spoken request. A third person can do the asking on behalf of the ESA owner as well.

    You do not need to include words like ‘reasonable accommodation,’ ‘support animal’, or any other specific word in your letter. Just let the landlord know that you want to live with your ESA and send the ESA letter.

  6. 6. ESA accommodation can be requested before or after acquiring ESA

    There is a question among ESA owners about whether they can make an accommodation request before or after acquiring the ESA. HUD has said that people who have any disability can ask for accommodation at any time.

    The landlord needs to consider the request regardless of the fact that you made it after bringing your ESA to their home.

    If you have an ESA, it is better to let the landlord know in advance. It will make things easier for everyone if he knows about it before you bring your ESA home. Do not hide your ESA or lie about it with the landlord. Submit a request as soon as you get an ESA.

  7. 7. HUD clarified the kinds of animals that can be kept as an ESA

    Adults and children with mental disorders can use animals for comfort and companionship. Dogs and cats are mostly used as emotional support animals.

    But there are many types of animals that can be used for emotional support. An emotional support cat, dog, rabbit, bird, hedgehog, rat, miniature pig, and fish can provide comfort to people with mental disorders.

    This does not mean that other unique animals cannot be used. Some people need them too. Turkeys, Roosters, Kangaroos, Squirrels, or Peacocks are some of the animals.

    There is one problem though!

    If this happens, the health care professional will have to describe how the animal will help with emotional support for this person in particular situations.

    Owners of these types of animals might find it hard to prove why they need them for emotional support because they are weird or different from what most people have.

  8. 8. Landlords need to talk with their tenants regarding the accommodation request

    Tenants sometimes face situations where the landlord does not want to allow them to have an ESA. They might not agree with it or they might just say no without telling you why.

    New rules state that before denying the request, the landlord must talk to you and give a reason as to why they can't do it. The landlord should let you know what is wrong with your request, and they should also try to change their minds if possible.

  9. 9. Housing rules can’t be denied by HOAs and Co-Ops

    HUD stated that accommodation for an ESA must include reasonable accommodation according to the fair housing laws. These accommodation rules are applicable to the HOAs and Co-Ops.

  10. 10. The maintenance of the ESA will be the sole responsibility of the ESA owner

    HUD said that the owner of an ESA is responsible for taking care of it. You can do this yourself or with help from family members, or you can get help from a third-party service provider.

  11. 11. ESA registration is not authentic and non-recognizable by the landlords and airlines

    The only way to get an ESA is to get a letter from a licensed healthcare professional that says you need one. ESA registration is not a real thing and definitely not a legal requirement.

    ESAs do not need any registration or license. These documents do not give the ESA owner any rights. HUD said that the registration documents purchased online are not enough to show someone is suffering from mental impairments and needs an ESA.

    They recommend people do not get involved with these sites because the registrations they provide are fake. Always see a qualified health care professional if you want to get a real ESA letter.

  12. 12. HUD clarified that you can purchase an ESA letter online

    You need to have an ESA letter from a qualified professional. The professionals you can get letters from are psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, optometrists, physician’s assistants, nurses, and other health professionals. These professionals can engage with you through an online service as well.

    There are many credible websites online, like, that can help you get through with a licensed professional who can help you write an ESA letter.

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development said that such online services are legitimate. These services are especially good for people who can't see a health professional in person for any reason.

HUD’s New Rules - A Must Know for all ESA Owners

HUD has given new rules for ESA owners. They show the importance of ESAs and how you can protect them from any discrimination. They ensure you an equal opportunity of housing as an ESA owner.

With these new rules, HUD discusses the key role that ESAs have in people's lives. There are many examples that show how ESAs help people with emotional and psychological issues.

  • ESAs help in managing the symptoms of people facing mental health issues.
  • If a person with PTSD has an anxiety or panic attack, ESAs can help them stay calm.
  • ESAs help their owners to manage the stress or anxiety that comes with any disability.
  • ESAs give confidence to their owners. They become more sociable and feel less isolated.

The government has new guidelines for people who want to become ESA owners. You should know about the fair housing laws.

If you are already an ESA owner or want to qualify for one, remember that people should not use services that sell certifications, registrations, and licenses to qualify for ESA. Only licensed health care professionals can provide a legitimate ESA letter.

If you are suffering from any mental condition and believe that ESA can help you with the symptoms, talk to a professional about it. If you cannot find one or if it is too hard, we at can help you contact a licensed therapist and get an ESA letter easily.