Unlike in some other nations such as the United States, in the UK Emotional Support Animals do not receive the same kind of legal recognition.
While service animals such as guide dogs are given legal leniency in many circumstances, being allowed in places other animals are not. Currently, in the UK, the laws that protect assistance or service animals do not include emotional support animals, causing complications for their owners in everyday life.
What Do Tenants Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals?
In the current housing market, landlords often stipulate in their tenancy agreements that no pets are allowed in the property and will reject tenants who have pets. This makes finding a suitable home difficult for those who have emotional support animals.
There are very few properties that allow pets on the market, and according to Dogs Trust, 1 in 3 pet owners have difficulty finding a property, with almost half also saying they found lettings agents ‘unhelpful.’
The current UK Law does little to help those who rely on their emotional support animals find property. Previously the Office of Fair Trading published a document called Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements but this has since been abolished. It offered guidance into and common interpretations of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 act and helped those who needed to have their pets in their home for mental health reasons as this it could be considered unfair to deny them.
Now there are no laws to protect the rights of those that need to find a property that allows for pets. If a tenant keeps a pet when their tenancy agreement does not allow for this they are breaking their contract and can face eviction, an additional stress that someone experience mental health problems has to face.
Can You Fly With Emotional Support Animals?
The answer to this question varies on where you are travelling to and from and what airline you are using. In the United States airlines are more lenient with emotional support animals as in the U.S. there are more laws regarding citizens rights to have an emotional support animal present.
The situation with UK airlines, however, is much stricter. If you are flying budget airlines within Europe it can be extremely difficult to get your ESA aboard a flight. Virgin Airlines, EasyJet and Ryanair, all only allow dogs on board for emotional support. As ESAs can be any kind of animal this is only a benefit for some owners and those that have cats, or other animals will find they are not allowed to take them onboard flights with these airlines.
British Airways does not allow any ESAs to fly in the cabin as UK law does not recognize these animals as assistance so they are not legally required to do so, neither does WOW Air.
If you are planning to travel internationally it is best to check the airlines policy before booking a ticket. ESAs have no legal right to be in the cabin with you and it is at the discretion of the airline and their company policy as to whether or not they chose to allow ESA’s onboard.
How Can You Help
This petition aims to bring attention to the issues stated above to the government and raise awareness of the benefits of emotional support animals. The end goal is to bring changes to the law that will protect those who rely on emotional support animals for their well being and their rights when renting homes and travelling.
Signing the petition is a small thing you can do to show your support and help bring about change. You can also share the petition on social media to raise awareness with your friends and family, some of whom may be suffering from mental health issues and rely on emotional support animals themselves.