ESA Weekly News Report October 2nd: New Florida ESA Bill to Tighten Rules on ESAsReading Time: 3 minutes
In this week’s news, we bring you a piece about a proposed bill that will tighten rules on ESAs being allowed in rented housing. The second piece is about a coalition of unions, foundations and airline stakeholders banding together to petition against emotional support animals (ESAs) being allowed on flights.
New Florida ESA Bill to Tighten Rules on ESAs in Rented Accommodation
New Florida bill HB 209 aims to clarify and tighten the rules about ESAs living in rented accommodation with their owners. Representative Sam Killebrew has filed the bill in the hopes that it will pass in the 2020 State Legislation Session. The bill would amend Florida statutes’ Chapter 760.
The proposed bill, among other things, makes it very clear that a lessor cannot discriminate against a person with a disability who wants to live with their ESA. They can also not ask for any additional “pet” fees or deposits.
The bill is also aimed at cracking down on falsified ESA “certification” or on people misrepresenting the need for a support animal. This is good news for landlords, as they will now be legally allowed to ask people to provide them with written documentation from a health care practitioner, stating that the person has a disability, that the person is being treated by said practitioner for the disability, and also that the ESA is needed to treat the symptoms of that individual’s disability.
The written documentation (ESA letter) also needs to align with a set format from the Department of Health. The new bill also makes it clear that an ESA can not be prescribed by a health practitioner for a fee.
The new bill also clearly states that an ESA owner will be liable to pay for any damage caused by the ESA.
Unions, Foundations, and Stakeholders Unite and Sign Petition to Ban All ESAs from Flights
It is no news that airlines have been doing everything in their power to tighten the rules and restrictions on emotional support animals on their flights.
However, a coalition of stakeholders of various US carriers, pilot and flight attendant unions, service animal foundations and disabled members of the community, has formed to petition the Department of Transportation (DoT) to amend the regulations that say ESAs must have access to air travel.
The ACAA currently makes allowances for people with emotional disabilities or mental illnesses to travel with their ESAs on flights free of charge. The ADA however, does not make those allowances. The aim of the petition is to align the ACAA with the ADA, which would mean that ESAs are not under federal protection, and are not afforded the privilege of flying with their owners free of charge.
If this change were to be made to the ACAA, ESA owners would have to abide by the airline’s rules and regulations of traveling with a pet.
CertaPet’s Views on This Week’s News
We are always for rules and regulations that clarify the rights of ESA owners. These rules make it harder for people with fake ESA documentation, or who misrepresent their need for a support animal in order to live with their pet, to get into rented accommodation. The legal privileges for ESAs and their owners should be afforded to people with real disabilities, who heavily rely on the support of their ESA.
The petition to ban all ESAs from flights is a low blow. Yes, there has been an exponential increase in the number of ESAs on flights, but the ACAA is a federal law that protects ESA owners for a reason. People with an emotional support animal have a disability. One that is not obvious because it does not have a physical manifestation. At CetaPet, we are all for tightening the rules and regulations regarding ESAs during air travel but do not condone or support any form of discrimination against ESA owners who rely on the emotional support of their ESA.
We do however always encourage ESA owners to socialize and train their ESAs and make sure their ESAs are under their control at all times in order to avoid incidents which give all ESAs a bad reputation.
If you are struggling with an emotional or mental health problem, you should consider getting an ESA. They make coping with a disability so much easier. Plus, starting is easy and stress-free. You can take our 5-minute pre-screening for free. We’ll then put you in touch with a LMHP in your state, who will, potentially, issue your very own ESA letter. You could be holding your support buddy in next to no time!
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