We may be a nation of animal lovers but figures in the UK suggest 1 in 3 pet owners struggle to find rental accommodation (source: Dogs Trust). This makes things even more challenging for those who have an emotional support animal (ESA).
Often prescribed by health professionals including doctors, therapists and psychologists, for people living with a hidden disability, they can have a profound impact on a person’s recovery and day to day life, offering companionship, emotional and physical support. In short they can be life-changing.
But, whereas assistance or service animals (such as guide dogs) have some protection under UK law when it comes to living and access requirements, ESAs do not. In the eyes of many landlords or recreation facilities, they are regarded simply as pets with no special consideration or dispensation, which can be problematic and even traumatic for those who need them.
But as ESA Registry UK says, they’re ‘not just pets, they are vital components of ongoing mental health treatment and support for hidden disabilities.’
While the law may not be on their side, ZoomDoc, which provides a private Medical Letters service to help make patients’ lives easier and less stressful, is – as Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone explains:
‘As doctors, we are aware of the many benefits to individuals requiring regular contact with their emotional support animals to both support and maintain their health and wellbeing.
‘However, here in the UK, businesses and landlords are not legally obliged to make an exception for ESAs. Despite that, with our backing of an official ESA letter, we hope that we can help provide support and proof of their valuable role in a tenant’s life – and that this letter be taken into consideration when needed.’
If you need proof of your ESA or think it will help with a housing application or in other situations, here’s what it is and how it works.
Emotional support animal letters: who needs one?
If you have an ESA, being prepared and arming yourself with a medically-signed and authorised letter could help your accommodation application or case to take your animal somewhere that may question it.
An ESA letter may even be requested by landlords, housing associations or recreational facilities regarding access with an animal.
Emotional support animal letter: how to get yours
Order your letter online for £45 – no need to see your usual GP – and complete our online medical form, submitting a short video about yo3ur disability.
You’ll also need to supply:
- Photo ID (passport or driving licence)
- A photo of your ESA and type of animal
- Your digital Summary Care Record or a doctor’s letter confirming your medical disability
- Details of your regular NHS GP (if you have one)
We can supply an ESA letter the same day, via email. However, if you do not meet our strict and required medical criteria with necessary evidence, our doctors will be unable to provide this letter and will provide a full refund.
Emotional support animal letter: what will I get?
Our doctors will provide you with a same-day verifiable digital PDF letter signed by a medical professional and sent directly to your mobile, containing the following details:
- your name and date of birth.
- your medical disability and how it affects you.
- your emotional support animal’s name and type of animal.
- how your emotional support animal helps you.
- signature and authorisation by one of our UK GMC-registered doctors
- contact details of ZoomDoc Health with a QR code enabling a verification check internationally.
Find out which other Medical Letters you may need this year.
Need help with a Housing Support application? Find out more about our Housing Support Letter.