Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Virginia?
Yes, emotional support animal Virginia laws allow ESAs. However, ESAs are seen only as assistance animals rather than trained service animals.
As defined in Virginia state law, service animals are trained service dogs taught to perform specific tasks, such as hearing and guide dogs. Emotional support animals (ESA) are only there to comfort the owner rather than aid them in day-to-day life.
What are the Emotional Support Animal Virginia Laws?
What are Virginia ESA Housing Laws?
The Fair Housing Act is the biggest player when it comes to housing an ESA in Virginia.
The FHA states a landlord or property manager cannot restrict or deny someone based on the person’s disability. They are not allowed to deny someone with an ESA even if they have a no-pets rule and must make reasonable accommodations to allow an ESA in their building.
This can mean a change in policy or an exception in rules to allow the ESA. Housing providers are not allowed to charge pet fees, pet deposits, or impose breed restrictions on tenants either as this is an infraction to the FHA.
What are Virginia ESA Employment Laws?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, no person is to be discriminated against due to their disability.
However, emotional support animals are not addressed in this law. Service animals are protected under the ADA, but it is up to the employer to determine whether or not to allow an emotional support animal on a case-by-case basis.
What are Virginia ESA Travel Laws?
There are no emotional support animal Virginia laws addressing travel. Instead, they abide by the ACAA which only offers protection for service animals.
For emotional support animals, airlines are allowed to choose whether or not to allow them, and all major US airlines have updated their animal policies to no longer allow ESAs on their flights.
Passengers must now board their ESA as a regular pet and follow the policies of each airline. Each airline has its own set of rules when it comes to flying with animals so it is important to understand the policies of whatever airline you are flying with before bringing your ESA to the airport.
What are Virginia ESA Public Transportation Laws?
Based on emotional support animal Virginia laws, ESAs are not allowed on public transportation.
The ADA requires service dogs and psychiatric service dogs to be permitted on public transit, such as buses and cabs. Still, emotional support animals are not covered under the ADA and, therefore, are not required to be allowed on any form of public transportation.
How do You Get an Emotional Support Animal in Virginia?
Wondering how to get an emotional support animal? To get an ESA in Virginia, first, you must be diagnosed with a qualifying mental illness.
This can include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic attacks. The letter must be written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), and the letter must be written on professional letterhead with the LMHP’s contact information.
Keep in mind there are a lot of scam sites out there looking to make money by selling fake ESA letters. These sites will often use words like “certify” and “register.”
There is no such thing as an ESA certification as they do not receive specific training and there is no registration for ESAs so do not fall for a scam letter as it will not hold up in court as an official document.
Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have an Emotional Support Animal in Virginia?
Yes, emotional support animal Virginia rules state that you need to inform your landlord of your ESA.
The landlord can require the ESA letter your LMHP had written for you beforehand as proof the animal is an ESA. Without this, there may be legal ramifications for ESA owners who fail to inform their landlords of the ESA.
Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal in Virginia?
Yes, based on emotional support animal Virginia regulations, a landlord can deny an ESA but only in specific scenarios. If the animal poses a direct threat to the safety of others a landlord is permitted to no longer allow the ESA in the building.
Also, if the reasonable accommodations would present a significant financial burden or if the accommodations would be too altering to the building the landlord is permitted to not allow ESAs.
To ensure this does not happen to you, it is important to file an accommodation request in advance to allow time to determine if accommodations can be made.
Can a Landlord Charge a Pet Deposit for an Emotional Support Animal in Virginia?
No, according to the Fair Housing Act, no landlord is permitted to charge pet fees or require a pet deposit for a tenant.
They can only charge the tenant for damages the ESA does to the building and may be able to charge a higher security deposit for having the animal.
Can You Have Multiple Emotional Support Animals in Virginia?
Yes, there are no emotional support animal Virginia regulations limiting the number of ESAs per owner. Also, there are no restrictions regarding the type of therapy animal (dog, cat, or miniature horse).
It is important to know that each animal is required to aid in treating a mental disability, and an ESA letter must be written explaining the purpose each animal serves.