Service Animal Discrimination Attorney in Miami, Florida
Service animal discrimination is a distressing reality for many people with disabilities. It happens when individuals are denied their right to fair housing due to their service animals. This type of discrimination can take many forms, from landlords refusing to rent to individuals with service animals to imposing additional fees or restrictions on these animals. It's not just unjust—it's illegal.
As a dedicated attorney practicing in Miami, Florida, and serving clients throughout Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, and The Villages, I understand the unique challenges and frustrations individuals with disabilities face when they encounter discrimination in their pursuit of fair housing. I'm here to inform you about service animal discrimination, your rights as a service animal owner, and how I can assist you in standing up against such discrimination.
Understanding Service Animal Discrimination
Service animal discrimination is more than just an inconvenience; it's a violation of your rights. It can occur in various housing situations, including rental properties, condominiums, co-ops, and homeowners' associations. These instances of discrimination often stem from misconceptions or stereotypes about service animals, lack of understanding of the law, or personal biases.
Here are some common examples of service animal discrimination:
Rejecting Housing Applications: Landlords may refuse to rent to individuals based on their service animal. This form of discrimination is often disguised under other reasons to avoid legal implications.
Imposing Pet Fees: Charging extra fees or deposits for service animals is illegal. Service animals are not pets; they are necessary aids for individuals with disabilities.
Setting Breed or Size Restrictions: Some landlords may argue that the service animal is too big or of a breed that they consider dangerous. Service animals cannot be excluded based on their breed or size.
Demanding Excessive Documentation: It's illegal to demand detailed medical documentation or certification of a service animal's training.
Restricting Access to Common Areas: In some cases, landlords or homeowners' associations may attempt to restrict service animals from common areas like gardens or recreational rooms.
Harassment or Intimidation: This includes any behavior aimed at making life uncomfortable for a service animal user in the hope that they will leave, such as constant complaints or creating hostile environments.
Discrimination can occur in many different areas. You might face it when looking for housing, dealing with landlords, or interacting with homeowners' associations. Each of these situations is governed by different laws, but what they all have in common is your right to live and move freely with your service animal.
Service Animal Rights
You have rights as a service animal owner. Under the Fair Housing Act and local laws, you are entitled to live with your service animal in housing facilities that have a "no pets" policy or impose restrictions on pets. Landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for you and your service animal.
Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals
It's important to distinguish between service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs). While service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, ESAs provide comfort and emotional support to individuals with mental health conditions. The laws protecting each type of animal can vary, so it's crucial to understand where your animal fits in.
No matter your question, I will work with you to find the answer. Here are some common frequently asked questions about service animals:
Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because I have a service animal? No, under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and their service animals. Refusing to rent to someone because of their service animal is considered discrimination.
Can a landlord charge me additional fees or impose restrictions on my service animal? No, landlords cannot charge additional fees or impose restrictions on service animals. Service animals are not considered pets and must be accommodated without any additional costs or restrictions.
What should I do if I experience service animal discrimination? If you experience service animal discrimination, document the incidents, gather evidence, and consult with an attorney like myself who can guide you through the legal process and help you take appropriate action to protect your rights.
I understand how disheartening it can be to face discrimination because of your service animal. Your animal isn't just a pet; it's a vital part of your daily life, providing assistance and support in ways that others may not understand. And yet, despite the essential role they play, service animals—and by extension, their owners—often face unfair treatment and discrimination. I'm here to help rectify that situation.
As a dedicated fair housing attorney, I offer comprehensive legal services to fight against service animal discrimination:
Legal Consultation: I provide personalized advice and guidance tailored to your specific situation. I will assess the merits of your case, explain your rights, and discuss the best course of action.
Negotiation and Mediation: I strive to resolve cases through negotiation and mediation, seeking amicable solutions that uphold your rights and avoid lengthy court battles.
Litigation: If necessary, I'm prepared to take your case to court and advocate vigorously on your behalf. I have a successful track record in litigating fair housing cases.
If you've experienced service animal discrimination in Miami, Florida, or the surrounding areas, I'm here to help. As an experienced fair housing lawyer, I'm dedicated to fighting for justice and ensuring that your rights are upheld.
Service Animal Discrimination Attorney in Miami, Florida
As your advocate and ally, I'm J. Courtney Cunningham, a dedicated attorney committed to fighting against service animal discrimination. I understand your challenges, and I'm ready to advocate on your behalf. Don't let service animal discrimination go unchallenged. Contact me today to schedule a consultation, and together, we'll fight for your rights, fighting so that you and your service animal are treated with the respect you deserve.