Q: Our condo is designated pet-free in our community documents. I am about to rent and want to keep the apartment in good shape. If I include a no-pets clause in the lease, am I still forced to accept emotional support or service animals?
A: Yes. Service and emotional support animals are not pets, so restrictions that apply to pets do not apply to them. Emotional support animals are companion animals that provide therapeutic benefits for people with psychiatric or mental disabilities. These animals do not have to be trained, unlike service animals that are trained individually to perform specific tasks to help a person who is disabled. You do have the right to confirm that the animal is genuine and your prospective tenant is not trying to outsmart you. However, it is essential to remember that you should not discriminate against someone with one of these animals any more than someone with, for example, a wheelchair. It is understandable that you want to keep your apartment in good repair, but sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to allow everybody to be treated fairly.
Q: My homeowner’s association wants me to ask permission to put up a security camera. Can they make me do this?
A: Yes, but only if your community documents allow for architectural approval and your camera is clearly visible from outside your property. Cameras that turn on a floodlight when there is motion seem to be of particular concern for communities because they tend to bother the neighbors. If you live in one of these communities and feel the need to install cameras, find smaller units that are unobtrusive and are unseen from the street and you should not have an issue. You should also remember that the same privacy rules apply in an association that apply everywhere: You cannot record places where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as into your neighbors’ doors or windows. To avoid issues, do not point your cameras anywhere past your property lines.
— Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.