Service Animal Accommodations

service dog

I received a call from an Agent asking about the pet restrictions for a condo unit that I had listed for sale.  The Buyer has a service dog.

Some complexes do have a ‘no pets’ policy or place restrictions on the type or size of an animal that a resident may have in their unit and on the complex grounds.  However, Federal law (through the federal Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) may require accommodations by housing providers for service animals that provide assistance to individuals with a disability.   A reasonable accommodation request can be made to a landlord for rental property or to a condominium or co-op board.

A request must meet certain criteria such as the person making the request must have a disability, which is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and the person has a disability-related need for the assistance animal.     Both criteria must be present before a housing provider has to consider providing an accommodation for a service animal.

The housing provider may ask for documentation from a reliable source if the disability is not apparent.  The documentation could be a letter from a physician, social worker, psychologist or other mental health professional.   An accommodation request may be denied if an applicant has failed to adequately support the request or has failed to respond to appropriate requests for information from the housing provider.

If an individual has met the criteria for their request for an accommodation, the housing provider will need to provide an exception to its no pet policy or similar rules in the dwelling and all common areas, unless the housing provider can show that the service animal presents a particular risk of harm to others or the property of others or otherwise creates an undue burden.    The housing provider would need to be able to demonstrate a legitimate basis for denying a request.

For additional information , see Florida statutes.



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