If you have a disability or condition that necessitates the use of a service animal, you have rights. Despite the laws that exist to protect and enforce your right to use an animal for health and safety reasons, you may find that your West Palm Beach Landlord challenges these rights, even threatening eviction, extra costs and other repercussions.
Dealing with this type of issue is complex, and you may find it beneficial to seek the guidance of a West Palm Beach Attorney that can help you effectively navigate this sensitive issue. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) grants you and your service animal rights, and a violation of these rights could be grounds for legal action.
The difference between a service animal and an assistance animal
Service animals receive specific and special training to do certain tasks for their owners. These include guide dogs for the blind or dogs trained to recognize dangerous foods for those with severe allergies. Most often, service animals are dogs.
Assistance animals are any type of animal that provides comfort or support to the owner. This can include emotional and physical support, such as:
Alerting owner of oncoming seizures
Helping alleviate depression
Reducing stress and anxiety
Alerting owner of visitors or people at the door
The FHA covers your need for either a service animal or assistance animal. Your landlord may not discriminate against you because of this need, but you may need to show that your animal is a legitimate service or assistance animal. You may do this with a letter from your doctor or your therapist. See also F.S. 413.08 Rights and responsibilities of an individual with a disability; use of a service animal; prohibited discrimination in public employment, public accommodations, and housing accommodations; penalties
Your uncooperative West Palm Beach Landlord
Even after providing your landlord with the necessary documentation validating your need for a service or assistance animal, he or she could still be uncooperative. In this case, you have the option to file a discrimination complaint. In order to better understand your options and your rights as a disabled individual, you would find it beneficial to seek help from a experienced West Palm Beach Attorney, such as The Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC.
There are exceptions to the FHA rule. While most housing is included under this act, the following are not:
- Rental properties with four or fewer units, one being owner occupied
- Single family homes rented directly through the owner
- Housing owned by religious organizations or private clubs
Service animals and assistance animals are not technically pets; and, therefore, your landlord does not have grounds to charge you a pet fee. When it comes to housing discrimination or unfair treatment due to your medical, emotional and physical needs, there is no need to face this alone. With the right help, you can effectively confront this issue and perhaps secure a positive outcome to your problem.
If you’re dealing with a FHA issue, call us today @ 561.699.0399 to set-up your in-office consultation. We are located in Lantana, Florida, we serve West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, and South Florida.