8 ESA Housing Letter Templates With The Essential Guide

Learn all about ESA housing letter templates. Get your rights, find letter examples, and know how to ask your landlord!

Do you need an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to help with a mental health problem? If you need to live with your ESA, a special letter is super important! Landlords have to follow rules called the Fair Housing Act (FHA). An ESA letter shows them you have the right to live with your ESA even if they don’t usually allow pets. Let’s learn all about ESA letters!

What is an ESA Letter? (Revised)

Think of an ESA letter like a note from your doctor. Here’s what it says:

  • You have a problem that makes things hard. Your doctor won’t say the exact name, but they’ll say you have something that makes life tough.
  • Your ESA helps you feel better! Maybe your ESA makes you less scared? Less lonely? Helps you get out of bed? Your doctor will explain.

This special note means you can live with your ESA even if your landlord has a “no pets” rule!

Who Can Write a Real ESA Letter

Only certain special types of doctors can write a valid ESA letter. It’s super important to get your letter from the right person, or it might not work! Here’s who is allowed:

Therapists and Counselors

  • These experts help you work through tough emotions and life problems. They can be called therapists, counselors, or licensed social workers (sometimes they’ll have letters like LCSW after their name).


  • Psychologists are experts in how the brain works and how our thoughts and feelings affect us. They often have special testing to help understand mental health conditions.


  • These are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They can diagnose problems, talk with you about them, and sometimes prescribe medicine too.

Your Regular Doctor (Sometimes)

  • If you have a good relationship with your primary care doctor and they know about your mental health, they might be able to write your ESA letter.

The person writing your letter MUST be licensed to practice in the state where you live.

What Information Must an ESA Letter Include?

Your ESA letter is like your proof that you need your animal helper. It needs to have:

Your Name & Doctor’s Info

Your name, your doctor’s name, their job (like therapist), and how to reach them.

Your Problem

The doctor needs to say clear that you have a mental or emotional problem. They can say what it is or just that it makes your life hard.

Why Your ESA Helps (This is VERY Important)

The doctor needs to say exactly how your animal helps you (makes you less anxious, gives you company, etc.).

The Date:

The letter is only good for one year, so it needs the date it was written.

Revised: Extra Tips

  • It’s about getting the help you need: An ESA letter helps you get the support you need to live well.
  • Fancy Paper is Better: Your doctor should use official letterhead (paper with their office information). It looks more serious.
  • Doctor’s License Proves It’s Real: If the letter has your doctor’s license number on it, it shows it’s not fake.
  • Sometimes, a landlord might ask a few basic questions about your ESA. It’s okay to let them know it’s well-behaved!

Who Can Get an ESA Letter?

Only some people can get an ESA letter. To qualify, you need two things:

1. A Mental Problem

Your doctor has to tell you that you have something that makes your life harder. This could be things like:

  • Feeling worried or scared a lot (anxiety)
  • Feeling very sad and hopeless (depression)
  • Bad memories that won’t go away (PTSD)
  • And many other problems

2. Needing Your Animal Friend’s Help

Your doctor has to believe that your ESA allows you to feel better. This might mean your animal:

  • Helps you feel less worried or scared
  • Makes you feel less lonely
  • Makes you feel safe
  • Helps you with daily tasks or having a routine

Revised: Important Things to Know About ESAs

  • No Special Training Needed: Your ESA doesn’t have to know tricks. They just help by being your friend!
  • Lots of Animals Allowed: Dogs are common ESAs, but cats, birds, and even some rabbits can help too!
  • Only Special Doctors Can Decide: Therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health experts can write an ESA letter if you qualify.

ESA Housing Letter Template

Reliable sources provide templates (check HUD’s website!). Customize the template and then give the letter to your landlord professionally. is most effective when written by a licensed mental health professional.

Sample ESA Housing Letter Template

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free printable esa housing letter template 05


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free printable esa housing letter template 06


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free printable esa housing letter template 07


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free printable esa housing letter template 08


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free printable esa housing letter template 01


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free printable esa housing letter template 02


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free printable esa housing letter template 03


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free printable esa housing letter template 04




Submitting Your ESA Letter: Do’s and Don’ts

Here’s what to do:


  • Be Respectful and Professional: Even if you’re nervous, approach your landlord calmly. Demonstrate that you have a disability and would like to submit a reasonable compromise request for an ESA.
  • Provide the Letter: Explain that you have a letter from your healthcare provider. You can provide them with a document in person, send it by mail, or email a scan (whatever they prefer).
  • Offer to Talk (If Needed): You should be open to answering fundamental inquiries about your ESA. You don’t need to go into too much detail about your disability, but let them comprehend your animal is well-behaved and won’t cause problems.


  • Submit the Letter Before You Need It: You don’t have to inform your owner about your ESA until you’re ready to drive in with your beast or if they have a pet approach you require an exception to.
  • Get Defensive: Try to work with your landlord. Remember, the law is on your side!
  • Give Too Much Information: You are only required to state that you have a disability and your ESA benefits. You don’t have to disclose your exact diagnosis.

Can My Landlord Say “No” to My ESA? (Revised)

Sometimes a landlord can say “no” to an ESA. Here’s when they CAN:

  • Your ESA is Dangerous: If your animal bites, attacks, or breaks things, the landlord might say no.
  • Your ESA is Too Big or Unusual: Landlords can set some limits on size. They probably can’t say no to a dog or cat, but maybe to a super huge dog in a tiny apartment or a strange pet.
  • Special Buildings: Sometimes landlords don’t have to follow the rules, like if they rent out a room in their own house.
  • Bad Paperwork: You need the right letter from your doctor. If you don’t have it, the landlord can say no.

When a Landlord CANNOT Say “No”:

  • “No Pets” Rule: Even if they say no pets, they can’t say no to an ESA.
  • Breed or Size Rules (Mostly): They can’t say no just because of your dog’s breed or size, unless there’s a good reason.
  • Extra Fees: They can’t make you pay extra money because of your ESA!

What To Do If You Have Trouble (Revised)

  • Don’t Panic! Most of the time, landlords are okay with ESAs. Try talking to your landlord calmly.
  • Know the Rules: You can read about the rules for landlords on a website called HUD.
  • Get Help: If your landlord keeps being unfair, you can talk to a group that helps with housing problems.

Case Study (Simplified):

Sarah was scared to ask her landlord about her ESA cat because she has anxiety. Her therapist wrote her a good letter. She talked to her landlord nicely, and it worked out! Now Sarah and her cat live together happily.

ESAs vs. Service Animals: What’s the Difference?

They are different:

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Purpose: Deliver convenience and friendship to someone with a mental or emotional disability.

Training: No particular exercise is required. They present help by being themselves!

Legal Rights:

  1. Housing: The Fair Housing Act protects you, so landlords can’t deny you housing just because you have an ESA.
  2. Air Travel: No longer allowed on most airlines as of January 2021.
  3. Public Places: Generally NOT allowed in stores, restaurants, etc.

Service Animals

Purpose: Complete detailed jobs to help someone with a disability (like guiding a blind person, alerting to seizures, etc.)

Training: Highly qualified to accomplish their jobs. This training can take years!

Legal Rights:

    1. Housing: Protected under the Fair Housing Act.
    2. Air Travel: Allowed on planes.
    3. Public Places: Allowed to go almost anywhere their handler goes.

Quick Example:

  • Sarah has anxiety that makes it hard to leave her apartment. Her cat helps her feel calmer and gives her a reason to get out of bed. Her cat is an ESA.
  • Michael has epilepsy, and his dog is trained to alert him before he has a seizure. His dog is a service animal.

The Trouble with Online ESA Letter Websites

While it might seem fast and easy, getting your ESA letter from an online service comes with some serious risks:

  • Scams: Many of these websites are just out to make money. They’ll charge you a fee but give you a poorly written letter that your landlord won’t accept.
  • Fake Therapists: They may have someone with no qualifications fill out a form and call it an ESA letter.
  • Landlord Pushback: Landlords are getting wise to these online services. If your letter looks generic or comes from a website with a bad reputation, your landlord is more likely to question it.
  • Legal Trouble: In some states, it’s actually illegal to misrepresent your need for an ESA. Using a phony online letter could get you into hot water.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Work with a Real Therapist: This makes the letter much more credible.
  • Do Your Research: If you must use an online service, choose one carefully. Look for:
    • Licensed therapists in your state
    • Positive reviews
    • Clear explanations of their process
  • Be Honest: Never lie about needing an ESA. It’s unfair to people with real disabilities and could have consequences.

ESA Letter Requirements for Housing

Your ESA letter must include the elements to be considered legitimate under the Fair Housing Act (FHA):

1. Verification of Disability:

Healthcare Professional’s Information:

  • Name, job title (e.g., therapist, psychiatrist, licensed social worker)
  • License type and number
  • State where they are licensed to practice
  • Office address and contact information

Your Diagnosis: Your doctor should say that you have a mental or emotional health disorder that substantially defines one or additional significant life activities (as defined by the FHA). They do not require you to disclose your diagnosis if you prefer privacy.

Clear Need: They must explain that having an ESA helps manage your disability’s symptoms.

2. Specific Benefits of Your ESA

Not Just “Comfort”: Your doctor needs to be clear about how your ESA helps. Examples:

  • Reduces anxiety or panic attacks
  • Provides companionship to combat depression or loneliness
  • Offers a sense of security for someone with PTSD
  • Creates routine and responsibility

Tailored to YOU: The more specific the benefits listed, the harder it is for a landlord to challenge your request.

3. Additional Important Points

  • Official Letterhead: This adds legitimacy and professionalism.
  • Date: ESA letters are valid for one year from their written date.
  • No Fancy Diagnosis Needed: Your doctor can state you have a disability that impacts your life without sharing your specific diagnosis if you’re concerned about privacy.

Landlords cannot ask for detailed information about your disability or require your ESA to have special training.

Cheap ESA letter for housing

It’s essential to prioritize finding a legitimate and effective ESA letter over just focusing on the cheapest option. Here’s why, along with some strategies to potentially reduce costs:

The Risks of “Too Cheap” ESA Letters

  • Scams: Many websites offering super cheap ESA letters are just out to take your money. They provide poorly written, generic letters that landlords are likely to reject.
  • Lack of Credibility: Landlords are becoming aware of these online letter services. A cheap, templated letter might raise red flags and cause them to deny your request.
  • Potential Legal Issues: In some places, it’s illegal to falsely claim a need for an ESA. A shady online service could put you at risk.

How to Potentially Get a Legitimate ESA Letter at a Lower Cost

  • Therapist You Already See: If you have an existing relationship with a mental health professional, they might be willing to write your ESA letter at their usual session rate. This is the most reliable and trustworthy option.
  • Sliding Scale Clinics: Some mental health clinics offer services based on your ability to pay.
  • University Counseling Centers: If you’re a student, your university may provide mental health services, including ESA letters, at a reduced cost or for free.
  • Reputable Online Services: A few online services connect you with licensed therapists in your state. These are generally more expensive than scam sites but might be more affordable than ongoing in-person therapy. Do careful research before choosing this route.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Never Lie: Don’t try to get an ESA letter if you don’t have a genuine need. This undermines the ESA rights of people with disabilities.
  • The Value of a Legitimate Letter: A well-written, credible ESA letter is a worthwhile investment in securing your housing rights.

Additional Resources:

These letters often lack credibility. Learn more about protecting your ESA rights on the HUD website

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Website: has information on Fair Housing laws and ESA guidelines.
  • Local Fair Housing Organizations: They can offer advice and assistance if you encounter problems with your landlord.


An ESA letter means you and your furry friend can live together! If you want an ESA housing letter template to help you get started, here’s how:

  • Get the Letter: Talk to your doctor about getting the special ESA letter.
  • Know Your Rights: Your landlord has to follow the rules and let you live with your ESA. It’s the law!
  • Need More Help? There are groups that can help you with landlord problems.

Important Message!

An ESA letter means more than just having a pet. It’s about getting the help you need to feel good. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if your landlord gives you trouble.

Ready to get your ESA housing letter template? The first step is talking to your doctor!