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Law Takes Aim at Emotional Support Animal Certificate Abuse

The new law, SB 1084, was a session priority for Florida Realtors as the continued abuse of online “ESA certificates” created major problems for property managers.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1084 into law this week, which seeks to curb growing abuses of emotional support animal (ESA) certificates.

The new law was a major session priority of Florida Realtors as the continued abuse of online “ESA certificates” presented significant problems for many Realtors who are also property managers. The law establishes what can be considered reliable information for an ESA.

One of the main components of the law, which is based on new federal guidelines, is that patients must establish the need for an ESA through a licensed medical practitioner with whom they have an established professional relationship. Additionally, the law creates a civil penalty for the falsification of documentation used to support the need for an ESA.

Other changes in the law of interest to Realtors include the need for separate supporting documentation for each emotional support animal in a household, liability for any damages done to a person or property where an ESA resides, and a housing provider’s ability to ask for supporting documentation if the disability is not readily apparent.

Finally, the law allows a housing provider to deny an ESA if they believe the animal will cause harm to people or the property of others. The bill does not address restaurants, airplanes or other public places. The effective date is July 1, 2020.

Questions? Call Florida Realtors Legal Hotline, a free service included with membership.

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