How to Get an ESA Letter in New York: A Complete Guide2022-12-21
More and more people are turning to their pets for emotional support in New York. However, many do not realize that you need to do more than call your pet an emotional support animal—a legitimate ESA requires an emotional support letter.
An ESA letter does more than confirm your animal’s special role—it also lets your ESA receive some protections and provides numerous benefits related to housing, employment, and travel.
This guide will take you through how to get one, why you should get one, and the legislation surrounding emotional support animals. First of all, let's discuss your situation.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in New York?
To qualify for an ESA letter in New York, you need to have spoken to a licensed medical professional to assess and approve your need for an emotional support animal. The best way to do this is by arranging an appointment with a healthcare provider you have seen before or someone with extensive mental health experience.
Your healthcare provider will ask numerous questions about how your emotional support animal assists with your daily life and why you would benefit from a letter validating your need. If that sounds a little daunting, don't worry; we'll walk you through everything you need to know about the benefits of an ESA letter.
Let's start by going into further detail about who you should see to write this letter.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in New York?
Essentially, any licensed medical professional can write an ESA letter for you. Your best bet is to go with a professional already familiar with you and your needs, as this will make writing the letter much more straightforward.
If you haven't spoken to, or no longer have access to, a professional familiar with your condition, don't worry. Mental health professionals train to respond to various needs and will likely have written an ESA letter before.
Different medical professionals that could write your letter for you include:
- Physicians Assistants
- Licensed Counselors
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses
- Clinical Social Workers
Regardless of who you go with, the most critical aspect is that they possess a valid medical license to practice in the state of New York. Otherwise, your letter will be invalid.
What's Inside a New York ESA Letter?
For a New York ESA letter to be legitimate, it must include specific information. It must also be specific to you. When asking your healthcare provider to write your letter for you, you need to ensure they understand what must be in the letter.
Your letter must include the following:
- The type of medical license they possess
- The contact number of the medical professional
- The state in which they are licensed to practice
- The date their license was issued
- The date they wrote the letter
- An official letterhead
- The address of their practice
- The condition you are struggling with
- A signature from the medical professional
The body of the letter should also include details about you and your need for an emotional support animal. If the question is ‘why does this individual require an ESA?’, the letter must provide the answer.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in New York
An ESA letter is so much more than a simple piece of paper. It provides you with a wide variety of benefits you would otherwise be unable to access. Let's walk you through some of them.
Saves You Money
An ESA letter provides tangible evidence that your animal is much more than just a pet, making it exempt from the usual pet fees. Your letter should also make you exempt from pet application fees and deposits. With an ESA letter, your animal is not a pet at all. It's a support animal!
Validates Your ESA
Although emotional support animals are rising in prevalence, many people still misunderstand their role. Many people know about service animals but lack knowledge about emotional support animals.
An ESA letter provides legitimate proof that your animal has every right to be by your side and is not simply another pet, which could help to avoid uncomfortable confrontations.
Allows You to Live Wherever You Want
New York isn’t always an easy place for pet owners, especially for renters. With an ESA letter, you don't need to worry about being discriminated against because of your animal.
Under federal law, emotional support animals are considered a reasonable accommodation. You can live anywhere, including in places with a no-pets policy.
Helps Your Case for Flying with Your ESA
Since the Air Carrier Access Act changed, emotional support animals can no longer fly for free on any airline. However, you can still request your specific airline for accommodations; an ESA letter can only help with this.
While the airline may still deny your request, having a legitimate document from your healthcare provider will give your argument some weight.
Landlords Can't Restrict Based on Breed
Sometimes, landlords put no-pet policies in place that are specific to particular breeds. These exemptions cannot apply to emotional support animals, and your ESA letter acts as evidence to support this.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in New York
There is legislation in New York to protect emotional support animals and those that need them, but it can be challenging to understand the specifics. Part of the issue comes from the differences between service animals and emotional support animals. Listed below are some key categories relevant to you and your ESA.
Fair Housing Act
As mentioned above, the Fair Housing Act is federal legislation that protects your emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation. It means your housing provider cannot discriminate against you based on the presence of your support animal.
However, exceptions to this do apply. Namely, your support animal cannot live alongside you if it would cause undue hardship to your housing provider. Undue hardship is usually a significant difficulty or expense.
Additionally, your housing provider may decline your request for your support animal to stay with you if it has demonstrated aggressive behavior in the past. The best way to approach your application is to be as upfront as possible, with all the detail you think is relevant to the landlord.
The Americans with Disabilities Act explicitly allows service animals to enter the workplace, but emotional support animals remain a gray area. Ultimately, it is up to your employer whether or not your support animal can accompany you.
Bringing your ESA into the workplace will largely depend on the workplace environment. An employer will likely not have an issue with a well-behaved support animal joining you if you work in an office. In contrast, a food-service establishment will have a bigger problem.
Before bringing your ESA to work, explain your situation to your employer.
As stated above, since the amendments made to the Air Carrier Access Act, emotional support animals are no longer guaranteed a place on your flight. Several airlines acted quickly following the ruling to no longer allow ESAs on their flights, but not all carriers followed suit.
You can still contact your airline and plead your case. They may be sympathetic, and your ESA letter can provide valuable evidence to support your argument.
How to Get an ESA Letter in New York: A Step-by-Step Guide
So, now you know the benefits and the legislation surrounding an ESA letter, it's time to talk about how to get one! Listed below are four steps you should take to get a letter of your own, broken down into simple stages. Let's get into it.
1. Prepare for Your ESA Letter Appointment
You first need to get specific about how your emotional support animal benefits you and assists with your condition. Your letter will primarily focus on this, so your healthcare provider needs to know these details before they start to write it. It's also a good idea to go into your appointment prepared, as your healthcare provider may have questions, and you need to be able to answer them.
2. Explain How an ESA Would Benefit You
The more detail you can give to your healthcare provider, the better. They don't necessarily need to give you an official disorder diagnosis to write an ESA letter. Still, they do need to know how your emotional support animal helps you in your daily life.
For example, if you struggle with anxiety, you can detail how your ESA helps to soothe you. If you struggle with depression, you can describe how caring for your ESA motivates you.
Be as candid as possible. It might be a little nerve-wracking, but it's all valuable information, and your healthcare provider will understand.
3. Detail What Should Be in an ESA Letter
Your chosen healthcare provider must understand the requirements of a valid ESA letter. You can use our template detailed above as a guide for this, or you could even bring in an example letter for them to use.
Your healthcare provider will likely have written an ESA letter in the past, but if not, don't be afraid to point them in the right direction.
4. Wait For Your Letter to Arrive
Once your appointment has concluded, and you are sure your healthcare provider has all the information they need, all you need to do is sit back and wait! Your letter should arrive through the post in just a few days.
If you feel it has been too long since your appointment and you haven't received anything, don't hesitate to contact your medical office to chase it up. Delays may have occurred, and you have a right to know what stage the letter is in the application process.
Emotional support animals can completely change the lives of their owners, but you need to have the proper paperwork to back you up. An ESA letter is a crucial part of this for New Yorkers, and now you can find qualified licensed mental health professionals through ESA Registration of America. Contact us today to start the process to have your letter officiated as soon as possible!
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