Florida Resident Owned Communities, Inc.
Florida Resident Owned Communities, Inc.

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Emotional Support Animals

Florida's amended Fair Housing Act became effective on July 1, 2020. The amended statute adds provisions related to emotional support animals. 

  • Section 760.27 was created which prohibits a housing provider from denying housing to a person with a disability or a disability-related need for a support animal;
  • It defines an emotional support animal as an animal that is not required to be trained to assist a person with a disability but, by virtue of its presence, provides support to alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability;
  • It prohibits a housing provider from charging additional fees to a person with an emotional support animal;
  • If a person requests to keep more than one emotional support animal, the housing provider may request information regarding the specific need for each animal and may require proof of licensing and vaccination requirements for each animal;
  • It allows a housing provider to prohibit the animal if it poses a direct threat to the safety, health, or property of others; and provides an exemption for any single-family house sold or rented by its owner provided the private individual does not own more than three single-family houses at any one time;
  • If a person’s need for a support animal is not readily apparent, supporting information may be requested. However, the law prohibits a housing provider from requesting information that discloses the diagnosis or any medical records relating to the disability;
  • The supporting information may be provided by any government agency or healthcare practitioner who has provided in-person care or services to the tenant on at least one occasion. In addition, the law amends Sec. 456.072, F.S., to create a new cause for disciplinary action against a health care practitioner’s license for providing supporting information for an emotional support animal without personal knowledge of the patient’s disability or disability-related need; and
  • The law creates Sec. 817.265, F.S., and the second-degree misdemeanor crime for any person who provides false or fraudulent emotional support animal information or documentation, or knowingly and willfully mispresents themselves as having a disability or disability-related need for an emotional support animal. Within 6 months of conviction, a person convicted of this crime must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization serving persons with disabilities, or another entity or organization the court determines appropriate.

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