Do you live in The Sunshine State, or are you considering moving there with your assistance animal? If so, then you need to know about Florida’s emotional support animal laws and requirements.
Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal Letter in Florida
The requirements you need to meet in Florida to qualify for an emotional support animal letter are similar to other states. Importantly, you will need to get a letter from a Florida licensed mental health professional in order to qualify.
These are the basic Florida emotional support animal letter requirements for ESA owners:
- A licensed mental health professional needs to determine that you have an emotional disability.
- Your mental disability is in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- The identified condition substantially limits your ability to participate in at least one major life activity.
- The professional has to determine that an emotional support animal would help treat the condition or ease your symptoms.
- You need to get an emotional support animal letter which can be thought of as a prescription for an ESA.
- The letter must come from a licensed mental health professional.
- Your letter must be on your therapist’s official letterhead.
- The letter must include your therapist’s license details, issue date, and state.
Florida ESA Laws
Once you have fulfilled ESA requirements and you have received your letter, you have certain rights. However, there are two major limitations:
- An ESA doesn’t have the same public access privileges as service animals.
- If your animal is not a domestic animal, if it misbehaves or is a danger to anyone, you can lose your privileges.
So where are you covered?
In Florida, individuals with mental or emotional health disabilities have the right to live with their ESAs. If you’ve fulfilled the Florida emotional support letter requirements and you can provide proof to landlords, they can’t deny accommodation unless they have a valid exemption, such as if your ESA poses a danger to others. Denying accommodation of your ESA could get them in trouble under the federal Fair Housing Act and state laws.
Landlords can verify your ESA by asking you to produce a valid ESA letter. If you are able to do so, they cannot deny access, charge a pet deposit or a fee.
Emotional Support Animals in Florida Condos
With the growth in using animals as comfort animals, many Florida Condo Associations have been making it difficult for ESA owners to live with their emotional support animals. Some Florida Condo Associations have attempted to deny legitimate emotional support dogs by claiming that ESAs do not have rights or call them “fake service dogs.”
Emotional support animals have rights to live with their owners in Florida Condos that normally do not accept pets. The Fair Housing Act gives you the right to live with your ESA, regardless of your condo association’s rules. ESA laws always trump condo association laws.
Do You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal in Florida?
Of course, the final answer to this question needs to come from a licensed mental health professional. However, you can see right now whether you meet the basic criteria for an ESA.
You might qualify for an ESA in Florida if you have one or more issues listed below:
- Sleep issues
- Learning difficulties
- Panic disorders
- Personality disorders
Please note that this is not an extensive list; This is just an overview of the major conditions present in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If you have one of these common issues and believe that an animal can give you comfort and help ease your symptoms, you might meet Florida emotional support animal letter requirements.
Many people have some stress in their life. When this stress causes such emotional imbalance that you have difficulty performing major life activities, you can be considered emotionally disabled. Once a licensed mental health professional completes an evaluation and writes an ESA letter for you, you qualify for an emotional support animal.
Florida homeowners associations, landlords, and other housing providers will have to treat you with respect and dignity and make reasonable accommodations. Since some people try to take advantage of these rights and they have made the process slightly more difficult for people who actually need the company of ESAs.
However, if you provide a valid emotional support animal letter, you are generally good to go. If anyone challenges your rights even after validating your ESA letter, you can remind them that state law in Florida and federal housing laws protect your right to own an emotional support animal.
Get your Florida ESA letter online
Get the Love and Support you deserve!
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