Breed and weight restrictions are prevalent in condominiums and apartments. Many people with well-trained pets are prevented from living in the communities they would like. A well-known new exception to these rules are emotional support and service animals registrations., but even with these exceptions some boards or HOAs push back; sometimes they accuse would-be renters or condo purchasers of faking prescriptions or fraudulent registrations! These accusations don’t have to be taken lightly, and HOAs and Boards can be in big trouble for making false allegations- you have protections under federal law.

The Fair Housing Act Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requires that a renter or buyer of a residence be granted a reasonable accommodation for an emotional support or service animal, which allows the animal to live with the buyer or renter regardless of the landlords pet policy. Federal laws specifically allow emotional support animals to travel and live with their handlers, and the State of Florida reinforces these federally granted rights. In the case at bar, my clients dogs are service animals, severely increasing her protections and the allowances that are to be made for her. The Federal Fair Housing Act, at 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A) (1994) ("FFHA"), makes it unlawful "[t]o discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of . . . that person[.]" According to subsection (3)(B), discrimination includes "a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling[.]" For purposes of the act, "'[h]andicap' means . . . (1) a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities, (2) a record of having such an impairment, or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h) (1994). (Emphasis Added). Additionally, as of July 1, 2020, SB 1084 was signed into law by Governor Desantis and became effective. This law requires a patient to establish the need for an ESA by delivering to the housing provider supporting information from a licensed healthcare practitioner, a telehealth provider, or other similarly licensed practitioner, including an out-of-state practitioner who has provided in-person care or services to the patient on at least one occasion.

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