RENT Magazine Q3 '21

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) - Proper Verification How do you handle an applicant that states they have an emotional support animal and presents you with an ESA letter? This can be tricky as many of these letters can be obtained from the internet without much of a professional relationship between the resident and the verifier.

To help with these situations, you should have a verification process in place based on the Fair Housing Act that includes the following:

Ask the Resident:

Ask the Verifier:

Did you contact the verifier for the sole purpose of obtaining an ESA letter? Have you had more than one or two brief contacts with the verifier for the purpose of providing a verification? Does the verifier have personal knowledge of your disability and need for an animal? Has the verifier provided you with medical or mental health services?

Did the resident contact you for the purpose of obtaining a verification? Do you have an ongoing professional relationship with the resident by providing medical or mental health services beyond providing a verification? Do you have adequate personal knowledge of the resident to be able to make a diagnosis of a disability? Please note: we are not requesting that you provide the diagnosis.

As you can see, the above questions will establish whether the resident has an ongoing relationship with the verifier and meets the criteria of having a disability that requires the aid of the animal.

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