Pets in Rentals
Tenants’ rights to have pets in rentals is frequently an issue when it comes to landlords who feel compelled to prohibit pets in order to protect their property and avoid landlord-tenant legal battles over pets. While Florida does not have any particular laws dictating that landlords must allow tenants to have pets, there are federal disability laws which force landlords to allow for pets even if they have a “no pet” policy. Below, we discuss some of these issues in more detail:
Typically, if landlords allow for pets for everyone on their property, they include a provision to this effect in the lease. If you have a pet in your rental without first obtaining permission (via your lease), your landlord has the right to evict you under most circumstances. As long as they are not permitting some tenants to have pets and others not to due to discrimination (based on race, gender, etc.) or retaliation, they are well within their rights to prohibit pets (or only certain pets or breeds) on their property.
However, when it comes to service or emotional support animals, landlords must allow tenants to have what would otherwise be considered a “pet,” but in this situation, is more of a medical necessity, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This right falls also under fair housing laws, which dictate that landlords must allow reasonable accommodations for tenants who are disabled.
Specifically, in these circumstances, not only must they allow the animal in the rental, but they also cannot charge the tenant extra rent or deposit to cover the animal and/or any damage that they do, nor can they impose breed or weight restrictions, even if their other pet policy rules do.
That being said, there are two exceptions to this mandate, which include the landlord or a member of their family having an allergy (if they live on the property) and/or if the animal has had an incident aggressively threatening someone.
To clarify, under the ADA guidelines, a service animal means any dog that is trained to do the work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (which includes not only physical disabilities, but also emotional, mental, psychological, etc.). Emotional support animals (sometimes also called “comfort animals”) are not the same thing as service animals. These animals tend to help with anxiety and certain phobias, etc., but they do not have special training to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities, such as alerting someone to a sound or helping them cross the street safely.
Landlord-Tenant Attorneys Serving Florida
At Moran, Sanchy & Associates, we represent both landlords and tenants in any legal disputes that may come up. Our attorneys are well-prepared to handle any dispute efficiently and effectively. Contact us today to obtain more information.