Thinking of renting out a property? It's typical to prioritize things like how much rent to charge, how to screen tenants, and whether or not to allow pets. After all, landlords need to protect themselves and their rentals.
Most of the time, landlords get to decide whether they will allow animals in rentals. But when it comes to service animals and emotional support animals in rentals, this is not the case.
Failing to follow service animal laws can result in major consequences for Florida landlords. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how Florida service animal laws impact your rental property.
How Does the ADA Define Service Animals?
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides specific requirements regarding which animals qualify as service animals. The animal must be a dog or, in some instances, a miniature horse.
The animal must have gone through individual training. They must be able to perform beneficial tasks related to aiding a person with a disability. The tasks the animals learns to do must directly relate to the disability.
However, service animals are not the only animals protected by the ADA. Emotional support animals are not service animals, but they can be protected as well.
This is because the ADA says emotional support animals may qualify as reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. This is according to the Fair Housing Act and the ACAA.
When Do Federal Service Animal Laws Apply?
When a tenant has a disability and relies on a service animal or emotional support animal, a landlord's pet policy no longer applies. In fact, service animal laws stipulate that service animals aren't pets at all.
According to federal law, landlords should treat service animals the same way they would treat medical equipment.
Fair housing laws ask landlords to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. Landlords can't keep service animals or emotional support animals out of a rental.
Because service animals are not pets, a landlord cannot charge additional pet rent or pet fees for service animals or support animals.
Finally, landlords cannot discriminate against service animals by applying pet policies. This includes prohibiting certain dog breeds or imposing weight restrictions.
Exceptions To Service Animal Laws
There are only two instances when a landlord is legally allowed to deny tenants service animals in rentals. One instance is if the animal is aggressive and has attacked another person.
The other instance is if the landlord has an allergy to the animal. This only applies if the landlord also lives in the rental unit.
Florida State Laws For Service Animals
There are some differences between the ADA and Florida law. Florida landlords are required to comply with both sets of laws. Tenants have the right to rely on the laws that provide them the most protection.
More Property Management Resources for Landlords
As a Florida landlord, it is important to understand both state and federal service animal laws. They are one of the many aspects of operating a rental unit that impacts a landlord's success and wellbeing.
Want to find more ways to make managing your rental property easier? Contact Home River Group to learn more about property management solutions and get your free rental analysis today.