ESA Weekly News Report May 10th: North Carolina Bill Aims to Crack Down on ESA Misrepresentation

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esa dog reading newspaperIn this week’s news, we cover a new bill in North Carolina, which requires that emotional support animal (ESA) owners must follow a set of rules in order to catch ESA misrepresentation.

North Carolina Votes to Make ESA Misrepresentation a Class 2 Misdemeanor

Like many other states, North Carolina has seen its fair share of instances in which tenants misrepresent their pets as emotional support animals to get into rented housing without paying a pet fee or deposit. People also abuse the legal rights extended to ESAs, to get around the breed restrictions of certain housing associations.

On Tuesday, 115 of 116 lawmakers voted in favor of Bill 796, will make it a misdemeanor for anyone misrepresenting their pet as an ESA, and providing a fake letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).

The bill now includes “nurse practitioner and physician assistant, in addition to a physician or psychiatrist”, as stated in H796. It will be presented in the state Senate, and if it passes, the new law will come into effect in January 2020.

According to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) a landlord must provide reasonable accommodation to a person with a disability. This includes people who need to live with their ESAs. The law states that people with ESAs may live in rented accommodation despite there being a “no-pets” policy in place.

Representative Holly Grange made a reference to an incident in which someone wishing to board a flight with their emotional support peacock caused an uproar.

Grange said: “While these stories are good for a laugh, they also reveal an abuse that goes well beyond the airline industry and one which housing providers are unfortunately all aware of.”

Thus far, 30 other states in the U.S have already implemented, or are working on implementing stricter rules and regulations for these assistance animals.

Source: https://www.wral.com/house-oks-stricter-laws-for-emotional-support-animals/18371128/

“Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to: (1) misrepresent to a landlord that the person is a person with a disability or that the person has a disability-related need for the use of an emotional support animal; (2) make a materially false statement to a health service provider for the purpose of obtaining documentation or verification that the person has a disability-related need for the use of an emotional support animal; (3) provide a document or verification to a landlord that misrepresents that an animal is an emotional support animal; (4) fit an animal that is not an emotional support animal with an item that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the animal is an emotional support animal; or (5) as a health service provider, verify a person’s disability status and need for an emotional support animal without professional knowledge of the person’s condition adequate to provide a reliable verification, or charge a fee for providing a written verification for a person’s disability status and need for an emotional support animal and providing no additional service to the person.”
[H796 (2019-2020 Session)]

emotional support animal esa licking persons hand

CertaPet’s View on This Week’s News!

CertaPet is all for tight rules and regulations of any emotional support animal policies. We are in full support of this new bill as we know how important it is to make living with ESAs possible for people with disabilities, who benefit from living with their ESAs.

The legislature about people having to show their ESA letters to airlines or potential landlords protects the rights of people with disabilities. There are far too many cases of fraud in which people abuse the legal rights of ESAs by misrepresenting their pets as emotional support animals to get into rented accommodation.

There is no excuse for not going through the right channels to get a legitimate ESA letter for anyone who needs one!

Do you think you, or someone you know, needs an emotional support animal to mitigate the symptoms of a mental illness or condition? You’ve come to the right place!

At CertaPet, we help people connect with a LMHP in their state. After an assessment and diagnosis, you can receive your (legitimate) emotional support animal letter in as little as 48 hours.

All you need to do to get the process started is take our free online 5-min pre-screening! If your answers indicate that you may qualify for an ESA letter, we will connect you with a LMHP in your state!

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