Many tenants have heard, “either you go or the dog goes.” However, most people consider their dog to be a part of the family. Forcing someone to part with their pet can be devastating, sometimes even impacting the owner’s health.
Ownership of a pet is sometimes legal under state and federal laws, even with “no-pet” building policies. Tenants are protected by NYC Admin. Code § 27-2009.1(b). This rule states that a “no-pet” lease is deemed waived if a tenant has openly kept their pet in the building for three months while the building owner was aware of the pet. This may mean that the landlord or a building maintenance worker saw you walking your dog. If the landlord does not take action for longer than the three months, then the clause can be waived.
Is your pet necessary to keep you in good health?
Moreover, your pet may also be protected by disability laws. It is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants for disabilities Under the Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.
If your dog helps your disability, then you may be able to keep your pet under federal and state laws. Landlords must make reasonable accommodation for a renter’s disability. They must be willing to make adjustments or changes to the building or policies. Disability can be many things, not only a physical ailment. Disability can include anxiety and depression. At McAdams Law, we have helped New York tenants facing eviction to keep their pets due to depression and other disabilities.
How can renters protect their pets?
It is important to talk to an attorney as early in the process as possible. Many landlord-tenant issues are timely, and a lawyer can help you take the appropriate steps. If you have a service dog, then this pet is already trained to perform tasks that benefit your disability. Under New York law and the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must permit service pets for people with disabilities. This includes public accommodations that have “no pet” policies.
If your pet is not certified as a service dog, but you need them to aid your disability, then there are other steps you can take. Your pet may be protected as a companion animal. This means that a landlord must allow a tenant to keep their pet if they provide emotional support, especially for a disability. Go to a physician to evaluate your disability. They will need to deem your pet medically necessary to for it to be a companion animal.
These are just some of the avenues to fight unfair pet policies with the help of an experienced landlord-tenant attorney.