The wonderful news for the inhabitants of California requiring emotional support animals is going to be the fact that the “Golden State” is characterized by quite forward-looking legislation in terms of defending the rights of people with disabilities. The coherence of federal and state laws California in the regulation of ESA ensures respect for the rights of people with mental disorders who need the emotional support of their pet to enjoy preferential rights for housing, moving, and visiting several public places.
To be fair, we will note that in 2016, California made an attempt to establish a law that would procedurally complicate the lives of patients who demand emotional support animals. However, the bill was rejected as one that infringes on the rights of people with incapacities and mental disorders.
Rights of ESA owners
The state administration closely monitors the criticisms received by housing departments and urban development of major cities of California. Statistics explain that three of the five complaints submitted to the department are associated with disability discrimination. And a considerable percentage of these complaints concern specifically the problems correlated with the rental of residential real estate by people demanding emotional support of animals.
The rights of people who need an emotional support animal in California are defended by the Federal Fair Housing Act and ACAA. These laws provide the unhindered legal habitation of an ES animal together with his landowner in a rented home.
According to the Fair Housing Act, none homeowner can decline to rent out a home because you have an emotional support animal. Even though some homeowners are violating the law, hoping that pet owners will not complicate their lives with complaints to the target department and litigations, the large majority of homeowners don’t take this risk, because the likelihood of winning a case is near zero. This is related to the fact that the rights of people who need the emotional support of their animals are really protected by the aforementioned law.
If the landlord adheres to the policy of non-settling people with pets, he must ask the potential tenant whether he has the status of a disabled person. If he does, whether the animal living with him/her provides support for this disability. In case of positive answers to both questions, the landlord is obliged to settle the resident with his pet.
In this, the proprietor has the right to expect evidence of disability and the need for the extended presence of emotional support animals. For this, it is enough to suggest the emotional support animal letter in California.
In this, the landlord doesn’t have the right to clarify the diagnosis or demand specific data on the diagnosis of the landlord. In case the lessor’s business policy provides for the collection of supplementary charges for the stay of the animal in the apartment or house, this policy shouldn’t apply to the keepers of emotional support animals. Otherwise, such practice will be considered as discrimination.
If the landlord unlawfully refuses to settle a person inhabiting with an animal of emotional support, then the latter has the standing to register a complaint with the Department of Housing Urban Development of California. Legal practice claims that the vast majority of such complaints are resolved in favor of the tenant. In this, a lesser may be fined heavily as a disciplinary measure.
After receiving the ESA letter in California, you also have the right to be accompanied by an emotional support animal during the flight. The person traveling with ES pets has to exhibit a letter proving the mental state and a necessity for emotional support of the pet. In this case, the letter must be dated no earlier than 1 year before the presentation. In this case, a notice that you are traveling with the ESA should be submitted to the carrier 48 hours before the actual flight.
How to get ESA status for your pet
The evidence of the special status of your pet is the ESA letter from the licensed mental health specialist. Meanwhile, the law stipulates a special form of a letter. Firstly, it must be written on the specially designated letterhead paper called LMHP.
Secondly, the ESA letter should include a report on the medical license and signature of the specialist. Today, one can receive emotional support letter online as well.
You can find out whether you have the permission to get the emotional support status for your pet during the prior consultation with the licensed clinician, psychologist, or psychiatrist. In the affirmative, you can request the ESA letter, a legal confirmation of the status of the animal you own, and give you all the rights and benefits in accordance with the state law.
The interview will reveal whether you really necessitate an emotional support animal. As a rule, patients with such complex pathologies as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or developed anxiety receive a letter without any troubles.
We warn the animal keepers who prefer to obtain a letter via the Internet without personal contact with a doctor: make sure that the medical specialist has a legitimate license.
Rights of parties interacting with ESA owners
The law protects not only the rights of the ESA owners but also the number of persons, who, by occupation, may face a dilemma in respect of access of people with emotional support animals. In particular, under existing labor legislation, the employer is not obliged to give permission for the emotional support animal to stay at the workplace with its owner. However, he/she can allow giving permission for the presence of an emotional support animal if this doesn’t interfere with the work process.
Moreover, the law protects the landlords, who may refuse to settle the tenant with emotional support animal if the pet constitutes a threat to the health of others or may cause significant material damage. In this, every case is considered individually, while the size and breed of an animal can’t be the grounds for refusal of settlement. At the same time, a threat to the safety of other people or a risk of property damage must be specified for each separate animal.
ESA owners in public areas
As for the access of people with emotional support animals to public areas, the same limitations apply that are prescribed in federal law. Public places don’t have to provide entrance to patients with emotional support animals, but there are no direct prescriptions either.
Unlike a service animal, emotional support pet doesn’t have the right to enter private institutions, such as a restaurant or a grocery store. At the same time, ESA shouldn’t be specially trained, which significantly differentiates it from the service animals. Also, emotional support animal doesn’t have to wear a special jacket, but it is recommended to use this visual identifier to prevent misunderstanding by the surrounding people.
The regulation of California defends the rights of persons in demand of emotional support animals. In order to have the freedom to travel with ESA on board and rent a property easily, you must have an official letter from a medical specialist in the field of psychology or psychiatry. This letter is a testimony of the legal status of your animal. In this, you should take into account that the law defends the rights of not only persons with disabilities but also landowners, air carriers, and several other parties, which (by the type of activity) interact with the owners of ESA. This is made to restrict the abuse of rights provided by the state and federal laws. Moreover, it implements a comfortable and productive interaction of people in need of ESA with others.
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