As a property owner, allowing animals in your rental unit may give you pause, even if you are an animal lover. It is your decision whether or not to allow tenants to keep pets.
However, some exceptions exist regarding service animals and emotional support animals, which do not fall under the pet classification.
In Florida, a service animal is a dog or miniature horse trained to aid with a physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disability. You must allow your tenant to keep the animal on your property to comply with Florida law. You cannot charge a pet fee, as a service animal is not a pet. Nonetheless, if the service animal causes damage to your property, the owner is liable for the damages. You should avoid asking about your tenant’s disability, but you can ask if the animal has the training necessary to aid a disability.
Emotional support animals
Florida statutes define an emotional support animal as an animal that can perform tasks, give assistance or provide emotional support to alleviate the symptoms of a disability but does not require training to accomplish these jobs. As with a service animal, you must make reasonable accommodations to allow the animal on your rental property without charging a pet fee, though the animal’s owner is responsible for any damage the animal causes. If the tenant’s disability is not easily recognizable, you can ask for information to support the disability and the tenant’s need for an ESA.
While you can choose not to allow your tenants to keep pets, the law requires you to allow service animals and emotional support animals necessary to help with a disability.