Hotel Laws for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

Are There Hotel Laws for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)?

If you have an emotional support animal (ESA), then you know how important it is to be able to take them places with you. This can be from simple local outings to trips across the state or nation with your emotional support dog or cat (or potentially another critter). But one question on many people’s minds is whether or not there are actual hotel laws for emotional support animals.

If you’re wanting more information about your ESA, where you can take them, and what laws cover you and your beloved service animal, then you’ve come to the right place. Learn the laws that protect you both, as well as the many options out there for traveling together…

What is an Emotional Support Animal? What is a Service Animal?

First things first – what is an emotional support animal (ESA)? An emotional support animal is one that is meant to bring emotional stability and comfort to an individual suffering with a mental disorder. These can range from anxiety to depression and even personality disorders. An ESA can help a person to feel incredibly calm and comforted in situations that might otherwise lead to emotional discomfort.

There is a difference, however, between an emotional support animal and a service animal. Service animals have been trained to perform specific tasks for disabled individuals. This may be things from pulling a wheelchair, guiding a visually impaired person, or sensing certain conditions in their human and enacting help or even care.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Does it Cover Your ESA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to protect disabled individuals who use service animals in their daily life. It covers service animals (most often dogs) who are specifically trained to tend to their human companion. However, emotional support animals do not necessarily have to be trained as a part of medical/mental health treatment or a therapeutic program. For this reason, ESAs are unfortunately not covered by the ADA.

It is important to note that the ADA covers any establishment that the disabled individual visits. This can be any public space, their place of employment, or housing residence/lodging. Emotional support animals do not receive this same protection under the ADA, as they are technically considered a “reasonable accommodation” as a part of therapy for mental health.

The Fair Housing Amendment Act and Emotional Support Animals

The Fair Housing Amendment Act, however, does cover both ESAs and service animals. It states that emotional support animals are allowed to stay in no-pet housing. This means that no landlord may refuse you housing due to your ESA. So, while you might not be covered everywhere you go, you can at least take your emotional support animal with you anywhere you need to move.

The Fair Housing Amendment Act also states that they are permitted to fly in-cabin aboard any flight in the United States. So, there are laws to protect you and your ESA when traveling afar. But, what happens once you arrive at your destination? Are there hotel laws for emotional support animals?

Can You Bring Your ESA to a Hotel?

Currently, there is no law requiring hotels to allow EMAs. Why doesn’t the Fair Housing Amendment Act cover hotel laws for emotional support animals? Technically, hotels and motels are considered temporary housing, so they are not covered by Fair Housing laws. This also goes for restaurants, so that is another consideration to remember.

Don’t let this get you totally down, though. This decision is left to the business owners. So, while you may have some businesses that won’t allow your ESA in, there are tons of others that will. There are many large hotel and motel chains across the country that gladly accept guests with emotional support animals.

List of Hotels and Motels That Allow Emotional Support Animals

There are plenty of hotels and motels across the country that allow pets of all kinds. They don’t even have to be service animals at many of these chains:

  • Best Western
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Clarion Inn & Suites
  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Courtyard Marriott
  • Econolodge
  • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
  • Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels
  • Holiday Inn
  • Kimpton Hotels
  • La Quinta
  • Motel 6
  • Red Roof Inn
  • Quality Inn

It’s always a good idea to call the specific hotel before your arrival. While these chains are generally pet friendly, you may find one here or there that isn’t. Please remember that a hotel has the legal right to deny your emotional support animal at any time.

It’s never a bad idea to explore other options, as well. There might be locally owned or smaller hotels/motels/resorts at your destination that are not listed in this article. It’s also a great idea to check out privately owned lodging options. Services like AirBnB are surging in popularity, and many owners will allow pets to stay at the rental.

Check Other Overnight Stay Services

You can find many affordable, temporary rentals through other services today. These services are loved by travelers, and it’s no wonder why. You can get all the comforts of home when you’re away. And as mentioned above, many of them allow pets of all kinds, particularly dogs. Try these vacation rental websites that have many hosts who offer pet friendly lodging:

  • AirBnB
  • Boutique Homes
  • FlipKey
  • Homestay
  • Plum Guide
  • Sabbatical Homes
  • Sonder

If you do enough searching, you can find some really incredible options for you and your ESA. Many privately owned lodging rentals even come equipped with the simple and basic needs for a pet. You can find rentals that have fenced in yards, dog houses, dog beds in the home, dog bowls, and more so that you can minimize your packing when travelling.

In Conclusion

Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that there aren’t hotel laws for emotional support animals like dogs, cats, and others. There are still plenty of hotels, motels, and private lodging owners who understand the importance of service animals, emotional support animals, and just pets in general. They are truly family, and you deserve to have options for lodging when on the go with your ESA.


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