Bill prohibiting landlords from denying emotional support animals heads to Governor’s desk

service animals
Gov. Ron DeSantis has until June 30 to act on the measure.

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. 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.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


3 comments

  • Amy Roberts

    June 15, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Does this take into consideration that folks can go online and have your animal deemed a support animal by filling out a form and paying a fee? Is it outlined explicitly? Who does the enforcement? On the Nextdoor App a fellow was advised to do just that and the landlord could not refuse having his Dog that is on the list that most insurance don’t cover. I’m all about a true therapy animal, just not having the risk with an online certificate.

  • Paula

    June 15, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Does this apply to short-term rentals as well?

    So places that don’t allow animals will now be filled with dogs n residential areas? We all know that these certificates can be granted online after answering a several questions and paying a fee.

    Who will enforce/check that those dogs have been validly vetted, and not just people using this as an excuse to bring their pets with them? With houses holding 5 couples or more, we could have 5 dogs/house in a residential area. Hope this won’t be allowed unless it’s very tightly controlled and supervised.

    Manny Diaz has sponsored bills to help Airbnb. Here’s another assist he is giving them. Don’t worry about your dogs – just get the form and bring them with you!

  • BlueHeron

    June 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    I read the bill and the FHA guidelines. Condos and HOA’s are also included in this new law.
    It would be in the best interest for apartments leasing properties and “interviewing” prospective tenants to … include in the contract clearly written language pertaining to a LEGITIMATE health care provider (not downloaded crap) providing this data to the Landlords without infringing on HIPAA laws. Tenants should abide by walking, picking up after, keeping the dog healthy and quiet rules.
    I would go so far as to say the landlords need to require documentation of proper licenses, health check and vaccines with regard to the animal. And certain breeds may not fall under the “it’s allowed” part of the bill. The complexes have insurance so they need to be aware of who is coming in. Perhaps they should visit some “dogs are allowed” complexes to see how it’s done.

    I live in a condo/HOA that accepts cats and legitimate service dogs. There is only one legit dog residing here. There are a couple of very small dogs owned by elderly women who did not buy a bs vest. They are quiet as mice and nobody bothers them. There have been some who took advantage and brought dogs in with the bs vest. Management never said a word and the dogs were more well behaved than their owners. Mostly snowbirds.

    The penalties to the dog owner are very stiff this time so that could also be a bit of warning to anyone looking to pull a fast one.
    Unless I am wrong the ADA has nothing to do with this legislation. Those rules are very different.

    Bottom line is that any rental properties, HOA’s and condo’s need to accept the new law and make it their business to ensure proper communication with current or prospective tenants who has legit medical docs, no online crap. Amend contracts or HOA docs to reflect this new law. Include the legal penalties to tenant. They have no choice as they will be subject to “prosecution” for saying no to anyone who does follow the law.

Comments are closed.


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