There is an overwhelming issue with homeowners submitting applications for Emotional Support Animals.
I recently had an association contact me about an application for an ESA that consisted of a python snake. The resident wears the snake around her neck in the community and basically freaks everyone out.
Luckily House Bill 721 finally addresses these issues relating to pet-restricted residential communities who are seeing more and more requests made for an emotional support animals (“ESA”). There is a legislative proposal that most community association attorneys are happy to see.
As you probably know, association boards must respect the needs of its disabled residents. However, any google search will turn up hundreds of websites offering ESA certificates for a very nominal amount.
It has caused considerable frustration and expense to our associations trying to comply with the fair housing laws.
So here’s the good news: HB 721 would make it a 2nd degree misdemeanor if any person falsifies written documentation for an emotional support animal or otherwise knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself through conduct or verbal or written notice as using an emotional support animal and being qualified to use an emotional support animal.
Additionally, a person convicted of making a fraudulent ESA request will be required to perform 30-hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities as ordered by the court. It will be interesting to see how this process can be regulated and disputed by the association.
Author: Nicki F. Asmer