Allowing Emotional Support Animals in Condos

emotional support animal in florida condoWhile service animals have long been recognized and protected as vital assistants for disabled people, the rise of emotional support animals has caused many concerns for condominium associations. Service animals and their owners are afforded certain rights under the law. While this is also true for emotional support animals, there are some differences. For condominium boards, it can be difficult to understand whether they are allowed to enforce “no pet” policies in situations involving emotional support animals.

Do Condominium Associations Have to Allow Emotional Support Animals?

The Fair Housing Act, which was established in 1968, is designed to prevent housing authorities from discriminating against people based on color, race, religion, or country of origin. In 1988, the Act was updated to include protection for people with disabilities. Under this act, communities cannot discriminate against residents who have been prescribed a service animal or emotional support animal. The law supersedes all condominium rules and regulations, including restrictions on what types and sizes of animals are allowed.

There Are a Few Exceptions

While condominium associations are generally required to make accommodations for emotional support animals, there are a few exceptions. Associations are allowed to create fair rules by which the emotional support animal and its owner must abide. It’s perfectly acceptable, for example, to implement rules stating that a dog needs to be kept on a leash and all messes must be cleaned up. If the animal or its owner disobeys the rules, the association as the right to ask the owner to remove it.

In addition, the condo board can also ask for proof of whether an animal is a legitimate emotional support animal. While emotional support animals do not require special training or certification, the owner should have a prescription from their doctor or therapist. Without some sort of documentation, you are not required to allow the animal if you have a “no pets” policy.

While there are exceptions, the protection for emotional service animals under the Fair Housing Act supersedes all condominium rules and regulations. In most cases, condo boards must make reasonable accommodations for both the resident and the tenant. At AMI, we are well-versed in the laws regarding emotional support and service animals. If you have any questions, we can help. Contact us today for additional information.

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