In 2020, Florida passed a law that required landlords to provide reasonable accommodation for tenants with emotional support animals.
Support animals are becoming more and more common, but many people still don't understand the law when it comes to them.
Property managers and landlords can sometimes feel stuck in the middle when allowing animals.
So, what are support animals, and what rights do people with them have? Read on to find out.
What Is a Support Animal?
A support animal is any animal that provides assistance, emotional support, or comfort to a person with a disability. They're not just limited to dogs - support animals can be cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, snakes, or ferrets.
Support animals do not have to undergo training to perform any specific task. Still, their owners must have a doctor's note stating that the animal is necessary for their mental health.
The critical difference between support animals and service animals is that they provide emotional support. In contrast, service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for their disabled owners.
How to Identify if a Tenant Has a Support Animal
As a landlord in Florida, you cannot discriminate against a tenant with a support animal. This means you cannot refuse to rent or charge them a higher rent. You also cannot ask the tenant to pay a pet fee.
However, you can ask the tenant to provide documentation from a licensed health care professional verifying the need for a support animal. Remember that you can ask for the document, but you cannot ask for their medical information.
What Property Managers Should Do if They Have a Tenant With a Support Animal
If you have a tenant with a support animal, there are a few things you need to do to make sure you comply with the law.
First, you need a policy that doesn't discriminate against people with support animals. This policy should be in writing and given to all tenants.
Second, you must ensure your property is accessible for people with support animals. This means making sure there are no barriers, such as stairs, that would prevent the support animal from getting to the tenant's unit.
Third, you must ensure you're not charging the tenant any pet fees. You cannot charge pet deposits, pet rent, or other fees required from tenants with pets.
Get Property Management That Knows Florida Laws on Support Animals
It's essential to ensure you're up-to-date on Florida ESA laws. That includes ensuring your property management team knows the laws and how to comply with them.
Real estate investing is a complex business, and property management is vital to success. If you need quality property management in Florida that knows the support animal laws, we can help you protect your investment and comply with the law.
At Pristine Property Management, we are a property management company with an always up-to-date team on the latest laws so that our clients can avoid any legal trouble.
If you're looking for property management in Florida that knows the ins and outs of support animals, look no further than Pristine Property Management. Contact us today for rental analysis and rental valuations.