Florida Introduces New Law to Fight Emotional Support Animal Fraud in Housing

Florida Introduces New Law to Fight Emotional Support Animal Fraud in Housing

The fraudulent requests for emotional support animals in housing has been a rising issue for landlords and rental agencies. In effect, combined with the Fair Housing Act, the law prohibits discrimination by providing housing based on disability. Put in other words, if you have a certified proof that you need an emotional support animal, no landlord can deny you their house, nor can they charge you a fee. 

However, with the internet running ESA scams left and right, anyone could get an “authentic” letter. Airlines, housing providers, and other businesses have come forward, claiming that Americans are abusing the system.  

In response, Florida has recently revised its laws concerning emotional support animals, which came into force in July 2020. The new regulations have stressed the basis for professional discipline of medical practitioners who issue the ESA certificates. Besides, the law now also enforced criminal penalties for those who produce falsified requests for housing privilege. 

Here are the key points from the new Florida Laws

Online Registries and certifications are no longer Sufficient  

According to the new laws, any kind of emotional support animal registration obtained from the internet by itself will be insufficient to prove a resident’s disability or need for an animal. This includes certificates, registration documents, identity cards, and anything else. All licensed health care practitioners who provide a certificate should have personal knowledge of the individual’s disability. Moreover, they should be acting within the scope of their practice to provide any necessary information. 

Additional Information 

If a person requests permission to keep more than one emotional support animal, the landlord can ask for information concerning the specific needs of each animal. 

Liability 

The individual is also reliable for any damage caused to the premises or other residents of the premises by their emotional support animal. 

Limited Support for Out-of-State Certifications 

Before, it was possible to get certifications from healthcare providers from anywhere. Now, they have to be within the state unless they are telehealth providers. Additionally, in order to document a resident with a disability, this out-of-state practitioner should also have provided in-person care to the resident in question, at least on one occasion. 

Consequences for Both Residents and Health Care Providers in Violation 

If a healthcare professional is offering information on an individual’s disability without personal knowledge of their issues, this forms grounds for disciplinary action. 

On the other hand, if someone falsifies any documents or information or knowingly offers fraudulent documents to claim the benefits of having an emotional support animal would be considered as committing a misdemeanor offense in the second degree. This could lead to severe ramifications, including 30 hours of community service for an organization that attends to disabled people or other organizations chosen by the court. 

Regardless of how much you love your pet, misrepresenting the animal as an emotional support animal is unethical and damages the community’s reputation. These new laws are in favor of the housing providers to fight against any fraudulent requests and help those in genuine needs. It is likely that other states would soon release new updates following in the same direction for protecting the landlords and the rights of disabled individuals. 

 

 

 

Spread the love
Posted in: Law
  • Archives:

  • Categories:

  • Tags: