Can Hotels Charge For Emotional Support Animals?
If you have an emotional support animal (ESA) that helps you cope with a mental or emotional disability, you may wonder if you can bring it with you to a hotel. After all, your ESA is more than just a pet; it is a source of comfort and companionship that alleviates your symptoms.However, not all hotels are welcoming of ESAs, and some may charge you extra fees or deny you access altogether. In this blog post, we will explain the laws and regulations that apply to ESAs in hotels, and give you some tips on how to find a hotel that accommodates your needs.
What are ESAs and how are they different from service animals?
ESAs are animals that provide emotional support to people who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or autism. Unlike service animals, which are trained to perform specific tasks for people with physical disabilities, ESAs do not require any special training or certification. They can be any type or breed of animal, as long as they are well-behaved and do not pose a threat to others.
To qualify for an ESA, you need to have a letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) that states that you have a disability and that you need an ESA as part of your treatment. This letter is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.
You can show this letter to landlords, airlines, and other entities that request proof of your ESA status.
Service animals, on the other hand, are dogs (and sometimes miniature horses) that are trained to assist people with physical disabilities such as blindness, deafness, mobility impairments, or seizures.
Service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires public places such as hotels, restaurants, stores, and transportation services to allow them access without charging any fees or imposing any restrictions.
What are the laws and regulations for ESAs in hotels?
Unlike service animals, ESAs are not covered by the ADA. Instead, they fall under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in housing. The FHA requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for ESAs, which means they cannot refuse to rent to you or charge you extra fees because of your ESA.
However, the FHA only applies to housing that is intended for long-term occupancy, such as apartments, condos, dorms, or houses. It does not apply to temporary lodging such as hotels, motels, or inns.
Therefore, hotels are not legally obligated to accept ESAs or waive any fees or deposits for them.
Hotels are considered public places and have the right to set their own policies regarding pets and animals.
Some hotels may be pet-friendly and allow ESAs without any problems, while others may charge fees or deposits for them. Some hotels may even have a no-pet policy and deny access to ESAs altogether.
How can you find a hotel that accommodates your ESA?
If you want to travel with your ESA and stay at a hotel, you should do some research before booking your reservation. Here are some steps you can take to find a hotel that suits your needs:
1. Check the hotel’s website or call them directly to ask about their pet policy. Find out if they allow ESAs, what kind of fees or deposits they charge, what kind of documentation they require, and what kind of restrictions they impose (such as size limits, breed bans, or designated areas).
2. Compare different hotels and choose one that offers the best value and comfort for you and your ESA. Consider factors such as location, amenities, price, reviews, and ratings.
3. Book your reservation online or over the phone and confirm that you will be bringing an ESA with you. Provide your LMHP’s letter if requested and ask for a confirmation email or receipt.
4. When you arrive at the hotel, check in with the front desk and show them your LMHP’s letter if needed. Be polite and respectful and follow the hotel’s rules regarding your ESA.
5. Enjoy your stay with your ESA and treat the hotel staff and other guests with courtesy. Keep your ESA under control at all times and clean up after it if necessary. Report any damages or issues to the hotel staff as soon as possible.
ESAs are not legally entitled to access hotels like service animals are. Hotels can charge fees or deposits for ESAs or deny them access altogether.
However, some hotels may be pet-friendly and accommodate ESAs without any hassle. To find a hotel that meets your needs, you should do some research before booking your reservation and communicate clearly with the hotel staff about your ESA status. By following these tips, you can enjoy traveling with your ESA and staying at a comfortable hotel.
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