SERVICE & ASSISTANCE ANIMALS - WHAT'S THE DEAL?
There are still some confusion over the differences between a Service Animal and an Assistance Animal. I hope to clarify some of the differences below. Enjoy!
A Service Animal is any animal that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. If the disability is not visible, you may ask 2 questions:
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
You are not allowed to ask for proof of training, certification, or require a special ID.
An Assistance Animal provides support, comfort, and companionship to help improve ones physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. Assistance animals are not limited to working with persons with disabilities and are not covered by Federal laws protecting the use of service animals. However, they are protected under the Federal Housing Act which defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which significantly limits a person’s major life activities. There is no official certification or training, and breed. You may ask for a letter from the person’s medical doctor or therapist which is all that this needed to classify the animal as an assistance animal.
A service or assistance animal could be a dog, a cat, a bird, or any other animal that assists with a person’s disability. Breed and weight restrictions do not apply. Fees and deposits are not allowed to be charged as they are not considered pets and reasonable accommodations should be made. A landlord may still charge a security deposit and can seek money from the tenant if the animal damages the property. Also, if there is a nuisance issue, the landlord does have the right to remove the assistance animal through legal proceedings.
I hope this has provided some clarification as to what service and assistance animals are. All of this information was obtained by the websites of Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act. You should always speak with your Florida attorney for guidance pertaining to rental properties.
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