University of Lynchburg recognizes under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) the importance of emotional support animals (ESA) which provide emotional support for persons with mental health disabilities. The FHAA assures that people with disabilities be allowed to have an ESA in the residence with them if the animal is necessary for individuals to fully participate in the university housing program.
This policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA in university housing. This policy pertains to ESA only, and not to service animals and pets. The University has developed a separate policy regarding the presence of service animals in university housing.
University of Lynchburg reserves the right to amend this policy at any time, as circumstances require. It is the policy of University of Lynchburg that individuals are prohibited from having animals (pets) other than fish in university housing. University of Lynchburg will consider a request for an accommodation for an individual with a mental health disability who demonstrates substantial limitation to a major life activity as an exception to this policy. No ESA may be kept in university housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this policy.
The Emotional Support Animal Accommodation Request for University Housing form should be submitted no less than 60 days before the Owner intends to move into university housing. The final approval meeting with Disability Services, Office of Residence life and the Owner seeking the ESA must be scheduled and occur no less than 10 working days prior to the date the individual intends to move into university housing. If the Emotional Support Animal Accommodation Request for University Housing form is submitted fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into university housing, University of Lynchburg cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s request for an ESA during the first semester or term of occupancy.
The procedure for requesting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) follows the general procedures set forth in the University Housing Reasonable Accommodation Policy (“Reasonable Accommodation Policy”) as well as the requirements set forth below. However, to the extent the requirements and procedures in this Policy conflict with the Reasonable Accommodation Policy, this policy shall control.
Approval of an ESA and approval of the particular animal requested by the student is determined on a case-by-case basis. Students must renew their application each academic year to have an ESA in university housing (updated documentation may be required) due to changing residential assignments and settings.
The process for seeking an ESA begins with submission of the ESA Request for Housing Accommodation (link below). This form should be submitted no less than 60 days before the individual intends to move into university housing. University of Lynchburg will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodations in university housing at any time. However, if the ESA Request for Housing Accommodation form is submitted fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into university housing, University of Lynchburg cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s request for an ESA during the first semester or term of occupancy. The final approval meeting with Disability Services, Office of Residence life and the student seeking the ESA must be scheduled and occur no less than 10 working days prior to the date the individual intends to move into university housing.
If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in university housing, he/she should contact Disability Services and complete the ESA Request for Housing Accommodation as soon as practicably possible. University of Lynchburg cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.
To seek approval for an Emotional Support Animal:
- Request: Owner will request an ESA through the Accessibility and Disability Resources Coordinator by completing ESA Request for Housing Accommodation form.
- Policy Review: The owner will review the Emotional Support Animal Residential Policy (PDF) and complete the Emotional Support Animal Agreement and Release of Information Consent form. The owner must consent for Disability Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the ESA to individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal, including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel, roommates and neighbors, facilities, environmental services, security. Information released will be limited to animal identification and residential location. No individual disability related information is released.
- Documentation of Disability:
- The owner must provide documentation of need for the ESA accommodation from a reliable third party, generally using the ESA Provider Request for Information form. Other forms of documentation will be accepted, but all information requested in the ESA Provider Request for Information form must be included.
- We will accept documentation from providers in the State of Virginia or the student’s state of permanent residence.
- If the third party returns the ESA Provider Request for Information form (or other documentation) without sufficient information for Disability Services to determine whether an accommodation is necessary, the Coordinator will inform the individual in writing of the documentation’s insufficiency. The Coordinator may request additional information, including speaking directly with the individual supplying the third-party verification, within fourteen (14) business days of receiving the verification.
- Determination of Eligibility: The owner will schedule an appointment to meet with the Coordinator, during which the eligibility for an ESA will be considered.
- Individual ESA Consideration: If the owner/student is approved for the ESA accommodation (whether the owner qualifies for this accommodation), they will continue with the following steps:
- Animal Information: The owner will complete the Emotional Support Animal Registration Form (provided by the Coordinator if Eligibility is established) and submit to the Coordinator, including copies of appropriate vaccination documentation and current veterinary Health Certificate.
- Roommate Agreement: Where applicable, the Owner’s roommates, apartment mates or housemates will review the Emotional Support Animals Residential Policy (PDF) and complete the Roommate/Apartment Mate/Housemate Agreement Form (provided through email contact by the Office of Residence Life).
- Review: The Coordinator and the Director of Residence Life will review the Owner’s request, information gathered in the interview, documentation and completed forms (and as applicable, Roommate/Apartment Mate/Housemate Agreement Form) for the ESA to determine if the request is reasonable and necessary for the Owner to use and enjoy university housing.
- Approved Specific Animal: If the Coordinator and the Director of Residence Life determine the requested ESA accommodation is necessary:
- The Coordinator will schedule a meeting with Residence Life (generally the Area Coordinator for their residential assignment) and the Owner. The policy and agreement as well as specific information pertaining to the approved ESA will be reviewed and the Owner will be given an approved move in date.
- Residence Life staff and Maintenance staff will be notified of the presence of the ESA as appropriate.
- Neighbors, where applicable in residence halls, will be notified that the Owner will be living with an ESA as an accommodation.
- Should there be conflicting considerations between the Owner approved for an ESA and the needs of roommate(s), apartment mate(s), or housemate(s), such as health/allergy conditions, either the Owner requesting the emotional support animal or the non-approving roommate(s), apartment mate(s), or housemate(s) may be moved to a different location based on space availability. This determination is made jointly between the Director of Residence Life and the Disability Services Coordinator.
- The Owner may opt to use an ESA Notification Poster, provided by the Coordinator.
- Denial of Accommodation/Appeal:
- If Disability Services and the Director of Residence Life determine the request for an ESA accommodation is denied, Disability Services will contact the Owner and the Office of Residence Life in writing, within seven (7) business days of its determination.
- If the Owner is unwilling to accept the denial, Disability Services will provide written notification to the Owner and the Office of Residence Life of the denial, the reasons for the denial, the right to appeal the decision, and the procedures for the appeals The notification shall be in writing and made within seven (7) business days of the notification from the individual of his/her unwillingness to accept any of the alternative accommodations offered or the determination that there are no alternative accommodations available.
- An individual may also use the Grievance Resolution procedure to appeal a denial.
Julia R. Timmons
Accessibility and Disability Resources Coordinator
1501 Lakeside Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24501
434.544.8687 or 434.544.8339