Florida passes new law on Emotional Support Animals

6 Replies

Florida recently passed a new law to crack down on all the tenants who were taking advantage of how easy it is to pay a small fee to an online company they never even have to meet with to get their pets registered as an ESA so they can have pets where they’re not allowed and/or get out of paying pet fees.

Now, you don’t have to accept those phony internet-only registration certificates they simply pay a fee for and print out.

Gov. DeSantis Signs Law to Address Emotional Support Animals in Housing

Finally! Florida Passes Emotional Support Animal Law

Hopefully more states will follow suit with similar laws. 

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :

Florida recently passed a new law to crack down on all the tenants who were taking advantage of how easy it is to pay a small fee to an online company they never even have to meet with to get their pets registered as an ESA so they can have pets where they’re not allowed and/or get out of paying pet fees.

Now, you don’t have to accept those phony internet-only registration certificates they simply pay a fee for and print out.

Gov. DeSantis Signs Law to Address Emotional Support Animals in Housing

Finally! Florida Passes Emotional Support Animal Law

Hopefully more states will follow suit with similar laws. 

FYI: you were never obligated to accept phony certificates. It's just that Landlords and Property Managers failed to educate themselves and were accepting them because they didn't know better.

More and more states are passing laws that include a stiff fine for anyone falsifying a service animal claim. But here's the problem: who do you report them to, who investigates it, and how will they be punished? I network with thousands of property managers around the country and my state has had a law in place for two years. To my knowledge, there are still plenty of fakes and not one single person has been fined because it's too hard to prove. If you tried to report someone today, they would go find a counselor and get a legal letter before an investigation could even start. It's pointless.

Ten years ago, I would get 1-2 requests a year for emotional support animals. Now I probably get around 50 a year. It's one of the easiest frauds to commit and it's spreading like wildfire. They get a letter that has no expiration, requires no real evidence they have a problem that affects their ability to live, and they're not required to seek treatment (other than the animal), nor is there an expectation of improvement. That's why the vast majority of applicants with emotional support animals are coincidentally young with lower-income jobs. Word spreads and they have no problem taking advantage of the law.

 

@Kyle J.

I agree with @Nathan G. I have refused service animal letters as well as emotional support.  We have the right to request documentation to confirm.  Many are BS.  Pay $100 on line.  When I get the letters I confirm they are legitimate, I search the source of it. It’s such a sham people taking advantage of the system.  No additional rent, no additional fees and a no pet policy for landlords goes out the window with these laws.  Protect yourself make sure everything is documented.  

Originally posted by @Kenneth Garrett :

@Kyle J.

I agree with @Nathan G. I have refused service animal letters as well as emotional support.  We have the right to request documentation to confirm.  Many are BS.  Pay $100 on line.  When I get the letters I confirm they are legitimate, I search the source of it. It’s such a sham people taking advantage of the system.  No additional rent, no additional fees and a no pet policy for landlords goes out the window with these laws.  Protect yourself make sure everything is documented.  

That's right, and it's probably going to get worse. A Landlord was recently sued because he allowed an emotional support animal in his duplex. The neighbor is allergic to dogs. Neighbor got sick, sued the Landlord, and the Landlord lost.

I've had emotional support animals that were large, aggressive dogs. Others are barkers, diggers, chewers. We have to allow them until their bad behavior authorizes us to remove them.

It's a mess.

In 11 years Ive never had someone with any type of real or fake service animal apply to my rentals. Is this just not common in my area or something?

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :
 

FYI: you were never obligated to accept phony certificates. It's just that Landlords and Property Managers failed to educate themselves and were accepting them because they didn't know better. 

 

That's not true in many states.  All many/most states require is "a letter from a licensed health care professional who will state why the person needs their emotional support animal".  And that's exactly what these online sites that they pay a fee to are providing. 

Although they're basically a scam in my opinion, these sites do usually have relationships with licensed therapists and other health care professionals so that they can generate the appropriate letters and be compliant with the law.  The reason I still consider them a scam is because they never meet in person with the person paying the fee, the person can say they have whatever condition they want that qualifies them for the ESA, and it seems like the main purpose of these sites is not to evaluate or treat that condition but rather to just document it so the site can generate the certificate and collect the fee.  It's just a straight up certificate mill. 

Here's an article that talks more about the previous problems with these online certificates in Florida prior to this new law: Legislature tries to rein in dubious emotional support animals 

This new law in Florida clarifies exactly what landlords have to, and - more importantly - do not have to accept for ESA documentation now.  Landlords no longer have to accept documentation from these internet-only health care providers.  Now, they only have to accept the letter from health care providers who have provided "in-person care or services" to the person.  That alone is probably going to cut down on the number of people getting these letters because it's likely too much work for many people to actually have to schedule a visit and go meet with a health care provider in person (unless they have a legitimate disability).

There's also other benefits to this new law, such as being able to require documentation for each animal if the person requests more than one ESA, penalties in the law for people who provide false ESA information, etc.   So ultimately it seems like a good thing for landlords.