Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas
Emotional Support Animals, sometimes referred to as ESAs, have special privileges in the State of Texas under federal laws; they are not considered pets.; they are assistance animals for people with mental and emotional health issues.
Housing providers have to accommodate owners of emotional support animals free of charge as a necessity for their health condition. And, unlike typical pets, you don’t have to pay any extra deposits or fees for housing. Emotional Support Animals are also exempt from building policies regarding size or breed.
Any domesticated animals can be kept as an ESA in the home, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and yes…even sugar gliders and turtles!
In this article, we’ll explain
How you can qualify for an emotional support animal in Texas.
And, if you qualify,
How you can apply to receive a valid ESA Letter from a healthcare professional (*licensed in Texas) that you can use to secure accommodation for your emotional support animal.
Quick Review of Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas
Assistance animals have rights under various laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both are federal laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including Texas.
The ADA governs service animals that have highly specialized training to assist people with both physical or mental disabilities. *Emotional support animals, however, are not the same as psychiatric service dogs. ESAs do not need special training and provide comfort for those experiencing mental or emotional distress just by being present around their owners.
Emotional support animal owners have rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, which mandates that landlords reasonably accommodate tenants who require an assistance animal.
Texas Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws Allow ESAs to Live with Their Owners Without Additional Fees.
If you own an emotional support animal, have valid documentation and reside in Texas, you do have certain RIGHTS for housing that protect you from discrimination due to your mental or emotional disability-related need for an assistance animal.
- Housing providers such as landlords, condos, co-ops, and HOAs must reasonably accommodate ESAs, even if the building has an outright ban on pets.
- ESAs are exempt from normal pet policies. That means restrictions on size, weight and breed of pets do not apply to emotional support animals.
- ESA owners also do not have to pay any additional fees (including application fees) or deposits to live with their ESA.
However, there are LIMITATIONS to these rights.
- An emotional support animal must be domesticated and well-behaved. This means that you cannot bring a wild or aggressive animal into an apartment, etc.
- Your ESA also can’t pose any health or safety hazard to other residents.
- Some small housing providers are exempt from having to follow ESA rules, such as owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent.
- In addition, you cannot bring your emotional support animal into your new home unannounced and expect everyone in a no-pet housing complex will comply. You must submit a request for accommodation to your landlord in advance and provide a copy of your ESA letter.
It’s important to make sure that you have the right documentation for your emotional support animal. Most landlords in Texas are fully aware of what constitutes a valid proof for an emotional support animal.
*Landlords have every right to validate if you have a true emotional support animal by requesting an ESA letter from you.
Qualifying for an ESA Letter in Texas
To have a legally recognized emotional support animal in Texas, you will need an ESA letter from a healthcare professional who is licensed in Texas.
- You can request one from your current healthcare professional who is providing services for your mental health.
- You can also reach out to this counselor and apply online for an ESA Letter without having to leave your home.
What Happens Next?
First, the licensed healthcare professional will determine if you have a mental or emotional health disability that substantially limits a major life activity.
Qualifying conditions include:
Second, the healthcare professional will assess whether an emotional support animal can help alleviate the symptoms of that particular mental or emotional health disability.
Pretty simple, right? (I told you it wouldn’t be as hard as you might think)
So, How Do I Get Started ?
Just call our number and leave the following. An application packet will be emailed to you and you will not be charged for the service unless you are approved. If approved, an original copy letter will be mailed to your physical residence.
Information we need to get started:
- your full legal name,
- city in Texas where you live,
- preferred phone number for contact (in case healthcare provider requires) and
- a personal email where the application documents may be sent.
(*all info must be that of the owner of the animal/s applied for)
If you’re a Texas resident, your ESA rights require that you have a legitimate ESA letter from a healthcare professional that is licensed in Texas.