Many landlord-tenant disputes arise when a tenant keeps a pet in a pet-free rental property. In some cases, a landlord may have the legal right to evict a tenant for having an animal in violation of the no-pets term of a lease. In other situations, a tenant may be allowed to keep a pet under the protection of state or federal law.
A Tenant's Right to Keep a Pet
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of a tenant's physical or mental disability. This means that a landlord in New York must allow a tenant to have a service or emotional support animal in a rental property, even if the landlord prohibits tenants from having pets. A service animal is generally one that has received training in order to assist an individual with a severe disability, such as a guide dog used by an individual with vision impairment. Emotional support animals are not required to undergo specialized training, but they must provide physical or emotional support that eases a person's disability. In addition, keeping the animal must be necessary in order for the tenant to maintain a standard quality of life. The law allows for a landlord to require that the tenant provide them with written documentation from a doctor or therapist that states that the tenant needs the service or emotional support animal to help them with a disability.
The law is not limited in its application to certain species of animals. While most service and emotional support animals are dogs, a tenant may have the right to keep a cat or other animal in their dwelling, so long as keeping the animal in the apartment would be considered reasonable under the law. An animal may be considered unreasonable due to size, temperament, or species. An animal may also be unreasonable if it causes extensive damages to the apartment or poses a severe health or safety risk to other tenants.
A Landlord's Right to Evict a Tenant for Keeping a Pet
A landlord may have the right to evict a tenant for keeping an animal in violation of a no-pets lease policy if the pet is not being used as a service or emotional support animal. Some leases prohibit tenants from having pets and others include restrictions on animal size, type, or breed. A lease may also include provisions regarding pet-clean up rules and leash use in hallways and common areas. If these lease provisions are breached by a tenant, the landlord may have the right to begin the eviction process.
We are Here to Help with Pet Disputes
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, our landlord-tenant attorneys at the Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, PLLC have years of experience handling pet dispute issues in New York. Landlord-tenant laws are complex, especially when a service animal or emotional support animal is involved. Use our convenient online form to set up your free consultation with our office today.