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Real estate Q&A: I can't rent to pet owners, but do I have to allow emotional support animals?

Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: Our condo is designated pet-free in our community documents. I am about to rent and want to keep the apartment in good shape. If I include a no-pets clause in the lease, am I still forced to accept emotional support or service animals? -- Jane

A: Yes. Service and emotional support animals are not pets, so restrictions that apply to pets do not apply to them. Emotional support animals are companion animals that provide therapeutic benefits for people with psychiatric or mental disabilities. These animals do not have to be trained, unlike service animals that are trained individually to perform specific tasks to help a person who is disabled. You do have the right to confirm that the animal is genuine and your prospective tenant is not trying to outsmart you. However, it is essential to remember that you should not discriminate against someone with one of these animals any more than someone with, for example, a wheelchair. It is understandable that you want to keep your apartment in good repair, but sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to allow everybody to be treated fairly.

Q: My homeowner's association wants me to ask permission to put up a security camera. Can they make me do this? -- Liz

About The Writer

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.


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