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Rules On Emotional Support Animals

July 2, 2020

Those who claim a disability entitling them to keep an emotional support animal in their condo or rental unit will have to prove it under new rules signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis this week.

SB 1084 prohibits discrimination in housing for someone who needs a support animal. It also prohibits a landlord from charging additional fees for a person who has an emotional support animal.

But simply printing an ID card off the internet or ordering a patch online claiming their pet is an emotional support animal will no longer suffice.

Under the new law, “A patch, ID card, 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.”

If a person’s disability isn’t readily apparent, the homeowners, condo association or landlord can request reliable information that a person has a disability, such as a determination of disability from any federal, state or local government agency.

The law specifically prohibits health care practitioners from “providing information regarding a person’s need for an emotional support animal without having personal knowledge of that person’s need for the animal,” and without having treated the person.

Falsification or other fraudulent misrepresentation regarding the use of an emotional support animal is a violation that could result in jail for 60 days, a fine of $500 or both, and 30 hours of community service with an organization that serves individuals with disabilities.

The new law also makes the animal owner liable for any damages caused, and removes landlord liability for damage done by an authorized emotional support animal.

By law, restaurants and other businesses are not required to let emotional support animals into their establishments, and they can be removed from businesses or condos if not under the control of their owner or if they exhibit aggressive behavior.

The new law does not apply to trained service animals.

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