EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS AND SOME NEW FLORIDA LAWS

New Florida Statute 760.27 defines “Emotional support animal” as an animal that does not require training to do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, or provide therapeutic emotional support by virtue of its presence which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a persons disability.”

 

So……..yet another owner or renter wants an emotional support animal. What must they prove? Let’s see what the new Florida Statute 760.27 says:

 

 

  1. A disability “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. And….
  2. That the pet alleviates the disability and is necessary to now use and enjoy the dwelling.

 

 

Can the Association Ever Deny The Request?

 

Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, rule, or regulation, a housing provider may:

 

  • Deny a reasonable accommodation request for an emotional support animal if such animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others or poses a direct threat of physical damage to the property of others, which threat cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation

 

 

Can The Association Ask For Medical Records?  NO

 

 

Notwithstanding the authority to request information, the association may not request information that discloses the diagnosis or severity of a person’s disability or any medical records relating to the disability. However, a person may disclose such information or medical records to the association at his or her discretion.

 

 

Suppose the Disability is Not Apparent?

 

If a person’s disability is not readily apparent, the association can request reliable information that reasonably supports that the person has a disability. Supporting information may include:

 

RELIABLE DOCUMENTATION

  1. A determination of disability from any federal, state, or local government agency.
  2. Receipt of disability benefits or services from any federal, state, or local government agency.
  3. Proof of eligibility for housing assistance or a housing voucher received because of a disability.
  4. Information from a health care practitioner, a telehealth provider, or any other similarly licensed or certified practitioner or provider in good standing with his or her profession’s regulatory body in another state but only if such out-of-state practitioner has provided in-person care or services to the tenant on at least one occasion. Such information is reliable if the practitioner or provider has personal knowledge of the person’s disability and is acting within the scope of his or her practice to provide the supporting information.
  5. Information from any other source that the housing provider reasonably determines to be reliable.

 

 

 

Can a person Have More Than One Emotional Support Animal? 

 

 

If a person requests to keep more than one emotional support animal, the association may request information regarding the specific need for each animal.

 

 

 

 

Can The Association Require Proof That The Animal Is Properly Vaccinated?

 

The Association may require proof of compliance with state and local requirements for licensing and vaccinating each emotional support animal.

 

 

 

Are There Limitations On What An Association May Ask Someone Who Wants An Emotional Support Animal?

 

 

 

A housing provider may develop and make available to persons a routine method for receiving and processing reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals; however, a housing provider may not require the use of a specific form or notarized statement, or deny a request solely because a person did not follow the housing provider’s routine method.

 

What about these websites that offer to classify your animal as an emotional support animal for a fee?

 

An emotional support animal registration of any kind, including, but not limited to, an identification card, patch, certificate, or similar registration obtained from the Internet is not, by itself, sufficient information to reliably establish that a person has a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A DOCTOR CAN NOW BE DISCIPLINED FOR:

Providing information, including written documentation, indicating that a person has a disability or supporting a person’s need for an emotional support animal without personal knowledge of the person’s disability or disability-related need for the specific emotional support  animal.

 

 

AND SO CAN THE PATIENT:

 

817.265 A person who falsifies information or written documentation, or knowingly provides fraudulent information or written documentation, for an emotional support animal or otherwise knowingly and willfully misrepresents himself or herself, through his or her conduct or through a verbal or written notice, as having a disability or disability-related need for an emotional support animal or being otherwise qualified to use an emotional support animal, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree. In addition, within 6 months after a conviction under this section, a person must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves persons with disabilities or for another entity or organization that the court determines is appropriate.

What if The Animal Damages Association Property?

 

(4) LIABILITY.—A person with a disability or a disability-related need is liable for any damage done to the premises or to another person on the premises by his or her emotional support animal.

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