Animals and the community.

Animals and the community.

  • Posted: Oct 08, 2015
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Danon Management Article: Animals and the community. South Florida Property Management Service Dog New dialogue about emotional support and service animals has been a hot topic for many communities A hot topic of conversation in the real estate condominium communities in Coral Springs, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Delray Beach is the recent Florida House of Representatives approval of bill HB 849 regarding service animals and emotional support animals. The bill was approved this past week and will become effective July 1st 2014. The senate companion bill, SB 1146, by Sen. Altman, has not been heard in committee yet. The bill is intended to protect residents with service dogs. The piece that is relevant to the South Florida property management industry is it will provide, “…equal access to housing accommodations for individual with disability accompanied by emotional support animal; provides conditions under which landlord may request documentation of qualifying disability…” The concern with the bill is the definition of “service animal”. There has been an unfortunate new trend where residents are fraudulently obtaining service animal status for their pets. There are no strict regulations or specific language giving punishment to persons who assist residents in fraudulently obtaining a service animal or emotional support pet. Fraudulent certifications and animal vests are available online for a small fee without any proof of training. The law requires two things to be considered a “service animal”. Those requirements are to be able to answer two questions; 1. Is the dog trained to perform a task for a disability? 2. What is the task the dog is trained to perform? Establishments, such as housing accommodations in South Florida, cannot ask additional questions without risking a possible lawsuit. The ADA had amended this law back in 2010 to better protect people with disabilities and their service animals, but unfortunately because of the broad scope of the law there may need to be some adjustments made to prevent abuse of the law. Concern about the terminology of the bill will be discussed at the upcoming committee meeting for the senate companion bill SB 1146. For condominium communities with tight pet restrictions, this topic has fostered heated conversations, arguments and even threatened lawsuits for both self managing property owners as well as property management companies in Palm Beach, Coral Springs, Delray Beach and other areas of Broward County. What provisions are currently allowed in your condo building? Does your board of directors need to revisit the allowances for emotional support and service animals? It can be tough to balance between protecting residents with service dogs and following the rules in place. We at Danon Property Management Company in Palm Beach are happy to help discuss ways to properly institute allowances regarding service animals that will protect you and your residents….

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