This week the question for Ask Landlord Hank is about a non-refundable pet deposit and support animal. Remember Hank is not an attorney and is not giving legal advice so check your local ordinances.
Dear Landlord Hank: Can a landlord charge a non-refundable pet deposit if the animal in question is not classified as a pet, but as a support animal?
In Florida, no-pet rules don’t matter for legitimate emotional-support animals.
A tenant or applicant must have real documentation stating that applicant is disabled, that the disability affects a major life function (and what that function is), and how the animal reduces the effects of the disability.
If an applicant or tenant provides fraudulent information or documentation, he or she is committing a 2nd degree misdemeanor with consequences.
Also, even if the animal has been classified as a support animal, the animal must be required by the tenant.
Lastly, the provider producing the documentation for you must have personal knowledge of the tenant (this means an online certificate won’t work) and be knowledgeable in the area of the tenant’s disability.
In other words, a podiatrist can’t say you need an emotional support animal for psychological issues.