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No More Denying ESA’s

June 15, 2020

A measure that would prohibit a landlord from denying housing to a person with a disability because of their support animal arrived on Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s desk Monday evening.

The bill, SB 1084, impacts Florida’s Fair Housing Housing Act with several amendments including a prohibition of additional fees for those assisted by an emotional support animal.

SB 1084 clarifies that an animal is not required to be trained to assist a person. However, the animal must be able to alleviate a person of identified symptoms because of its presence.

Current law requires a “service animal,” such as a dog or miniature horse, to be trained to aid an individual with a disability to qualify.

Under the bill, landlords will retain the right to prohibit the animal if it poses a “direct threat” to the safety and health of others and the property under the bill. Landlords are also permitted to request written documentation from a health care practitioner from prospective tenants.

The bill stiffens penalties for a person who fabricates documentation or misrepresents the use of an emotional support animal. Those caught misrepresenting the use of an emotional support animal can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for the offense include a $500 fine, community service and possible incarceration.

SB 1084 was introduced by Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. of Miami-Dade and Democratic Minority Leader Pro Tempore Bill Montford.

DeSantis has until June 30 to act on the measure.

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