Many individuals in Florida live in condos or other types of shared housing, and some require emotional support animals (ESAs) to manage their mental health conditions. These animals provide relief to individuals through companionship, helping alleviate the symptoms of certain psychological issues.
However, most condo associations have policies that restrict ‘pets’ or require additional fees for them, which can pose a challenge for residents who need ESAs for their well-being. So, can a condo association deny a resident’s request to have an emotional support animal based on existing policies? Here is what you need to know.
The law in Florida
Under Florida law, denying a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities, including the need for an ESA, amounts to discrimination and is unlawful. It means a condo association cannot deny a request for an emotional support animal if the resident has a valid prescription from a licensed mental health professional.
However, the association can request current documentation from a qualified professional to verify the resident’s disability and the need for an ESA if their disability-related need is not apparent. The documentation must establish the connection between the disability and the need for the ESA.
That said, a condo association can deny the request for an ESA if the animal is a risk to the health or safety of other residents or if it causes substantial physical damage to the property of others.
Legal compliance will save you a lot of trouble
You could get in costly legal trouble for denying a legitimate ESA request. As earlier mentioned, it is considered discriminatory and you risk fines and damages. Learning more about what the law says and having informed legal guidance can go a long way in protecting you from liability.