Emotional Support Animal Discrimination Attorney in Miami, Florida
I understand how disheartening it can be to face housing discrimination simply because you have an emotional support animal. The frustration, the challenges, and the sheer injustice of being denied the opportunity to rent or purchase a home due to your essential companion is something no one should have to endure.
My firm, J. Courtney Cunningham Attorney at Law, based in Miami, Florida, is dedicated to fighting against such discrimination. Serving clients throughout Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, and The Villages, I am committed to protecting your rights and seeking fair treatment for all emotional support animal owners.
The Role of Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals play an essential role in our lives. They're not just pets; they're companions who provide comfort, stability, and emotional strength to individuals grappling with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Unlike service animals, they don't undergo specialized training; however, their role is undeniably important.
The Fair Housing Act protects emotional support animals, prohibiting discrimination against those who rely on them. It's crucial to understand this law and how it applies to you, especially if you've been subjected to discrimination due to your emotional support animal.
Know Your Rights
In Florida, we have state laws and local regulations that protect you from discrimination. It means that landlords, property managers, real estate agents, and any other parties involved in the housing process can't deny you accommodation or impose additional fees or restrictions simply because you have an emotional support animal.
Here's what you need to know about your rights:
Fair Housing Act: Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords and housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including those who have an emotional support animal.
Florida Law: Florida Statute 760.27 protects individuals with disabilities who have service animals or emotional support animals. These protections also extend to the housing sector, prohibiting landlords from refusing to rent or sell a dwelling based on the individual's need for an emotional support animal.
No Pet Policies and Breed Restrictions: No pet policies and breed restrictions do not apply to emotional support animals. Landlords cannot refuse your emotional support animal based on these policies.
No Extra Fees: Landlords cannot charge extra fees or deposits for emotional support animals. They are not considered pets but a necessary part of your treatment.
However, it's important to note that these rights come with responsibilities. Your emotional support animal should behave appropriately, not cause undue damage to the property, and not pose a direct threat to others' health and safety.
Recognizing Emotional Support Animal Discrimination
The following are some signs of emotional support animal discrimination to look out for:
Refusal of Housing: If you're denied housing solely because of your emotional support animal, it's a clear sign of discrimination.
Additional Fees or Deposits: Landlords cannot charge extra fees or deposits for emotional support animals. If they try to do so, it's discrimination.
Restrictive Pet Policies: No pet policies and breed restrictions do not apply to emotional support animals. If you're being told otherwise, it's discrimination.
Refusal to Make Reasonable Accommodations: If a landlord or housing provider refuses to make necessary modifications to accommodate your emotional support animal, it's a form of discrimination.
Harassment or Intimidation: Any behavior intended to pressure or intimidate you into giving up your rights as an emotional support animal owner is discriminatory.
When you're faced with discrimination, it can be a confusing and emotional time. It's essential to remain vigilant and document these instances. These records will be invaluable if you decide to take legal action. Here's how you can help your case:
Note Taking: Write notes detailing who was involved and exactly what happened. Include dates, times, locations, and any specific words or phrases used.
Preserve Communication: Hold on to any paperwork, emails, receipts, and text messages that show proof of the discriminatory actions. Save voicemail messages and record phone calls, if possible and lawful.
Witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the discriminatory act, gather their contact information and ask if they'd be willing to provide a statement.
Photographic Evidence: If possible, take photos or videos that could support your claim. This could include pictures of available housing units after you've been told none are available.
Report Promptly: You have one year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint with either the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or a local agency like the Florida Commission on Human Relations. You have two years from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a civil suit.
Filing a Complaint and Seeking Legal Assistance
In Florida, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Remember, there's a one-year time limit from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint with HUD and a two-year time limit to file a civil suit. Seeking legal assistance from a knowledgeable attorney can significantly improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Emotion Support Animal Discrimination Attorney Serving Miami, Florida
Emotional support animal discrimination is a severe issue that significantly impacts individuals with disabilities. At J. Courtney Cunningham Attorney at Law, located in Miami, Florida, I am dedicated to fighting against this form of discrimination and protecting your rights. If you've experienced discrimination while trying to secure housing due to your emotional support animal, don't stay silent.