Do you have an emotional support animal (ESA)or planning on getting one? If you live in Florida or are planning on moving there, you should be aware of the Sunshine State’s laws and requirements regarding ESAs.
Emotional Support Animals in Florida
Because the laws that allow you to fly with your ESA (Air Carrier Access Act) and live with your ESA (Fair Housing Act) are both federal laws, the requirements in Florida are the same in all the other states: a properly executed ESA letter.
The one difference between Florida and the other states is that the ESA letter must come from a mental health professional licensed in the state of Florida. There is no need for concern, because the DOGtor has a number of licensed Florida mental health professionals in our vast referral network.
Florida ESA Legislation
The Florida Senate has been considering legislation would allow property owners/managers to expand on the questions they can ask regarding ESA letters, such as contacting the licensed mental health professional to confirm they wrote the letter in question. Currently, a landlord may not contact the licensed mental health professional who wrote the ESA letter for the tenant/prospective tenant.
Florida Legislature recently amended laws making it a crime to misrepresent that your dog is a Service Dog. Falsifying the certifications would be a second-degree misdemeanor in the second degree carrying a $500 fine and a potential 60-day jail sentence.
Please note that laws might be amended or passed after this article has been posted, so it is always in your best interest to check for any changes that could affect you and your ESA.
ESAs in Florida Condos
Many people in Florida live in condominiums, and many condominium associations do not allow pets. If you have a proper ESA letter, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives you the right to live with your emotional support animal even if the condo association has adopted a “no pets” policy. Also under the FHA, the condo association can not charge you for having your ESA live with you in your condo.
It has been reported, however, that many condo associations have become more aggressive in attempting to deny ESA animal rights, including making inquiries which are beyond what is allowed by the FHA.
The only way that your ESA can be denied is:
- Your ESA animal is too large for reasonable accommodation, such as a llama in a one bedroom condo.
- You live, or want to live, in a single family home that is not represented by a real estate agent.
- You want to live in a development of less than 5 units with the landlord living in one of them.
- Your ESA poses a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants.
Dealing with Uncooperative Property Owners/Managers
It all starts with you knowing your rights. You may have to educate a landlord who might be unaware of ESA laws.
If you feel that a property owner/manager/HOA/condo association is not willing to make reasonable accommodation for your emotional support animal or is otherwise acting outside the allowable parameters of the FHA, your options could include:
- Getting advice from a local attorney who specializes in this type situation.
- Threatening to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- Filing a complaint with HUD. Typically, HUD will investigate the complaint at no cost to you.
In Florida, you need a proper ESA letter from a mental health professional licensed in the state of Florida. The DOGtor can easily handle that need by accessing our massive network of licensed mental health professionals. And, we have done it so many times, for so many years, for so many people, we make the process fast, simple, hassle-free, and surprisingly affordable. And, if you don’t qualify, the DOGtor has a 100% same day refund guarantee.
Start your no-risk assessment right now.