FLORIDA'S EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL STATUTE – PART THREE

It’s amazing when you think about it……. I get asked questions about emotional support animals all the time.  I tell everyone that sometimes I can’t give an answer off the cuff.  I would need to know more, it’s not that simple.  Well, to prove that point, this is the third week in a row I’m writing about emotional support animals.  It really is that large of a topic.

Can The Association Simply Request To See Medical Records?

No. The statute says: Notwithstanding the authority to request information under subsection (2), a housing provider 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 housing provider at his or her discretion.

So associations – let me be clear—-DON’T ASK FOR COPIES OF MEDICAL RECORDS!

Should the Association Require Use of their Own Form?
The statute says: 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 if They Show Me that their Emotional Support Animal Was Certified By Some Group or Agency on the Internet?  Is that “reliable documentation?”

The statute states: 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.

 Suppose the Emotional Support Animal Damages the Property?
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.

Suppose it turns out that the Doctor Never Even Saw the Patient?
Florida Law Provides That The Doctor Can Face Discipline by:
Providing information, including written documentation, indicating that a person has a disability or supporting a person’s need for an emotional support animal under s. without personal knowledge of the person’s disability or disability-related need for the specific emotional support animal.

And Suppose the Person is Lying About Their Disability?

Florida law provides:
A person who falsifies information or written documentation, or knowingly provides fraudulent information or written documentation, for an emotional support animal under s. 760.27, 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, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. 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.

We have just written three blogs in a row about emotional support animals and still have not answered every question that may come along.  I’ll conclude by saying that the emotional support animal is allowed to go everywhere the owner is allowed to go on the common areas, including the pool deck.  However, if the dog goes in the water — give my office a call.  Dog swimming is not allowed.

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