Pets are great and New York City is home to hundreds of them. In fact, in 2017, the Animal Care Centers of New York City released a press release that New York City pet adoption rate was the highest in the nation. The first pet of preference is a dog.
But dogs can be noisy. They can bite. They pee and poop anywhere the guardian of the dog allows them (or doesn't know about). So, if you are moving into a rental or are already leasing your home, you need to keep a few things in mind when it comes to the law and dogs.
1. The Pet Law & No-Pet Clauses
Many leasing agreements in New York have no-pet clauses, in fact, it may be the standard. This changes upon request, but it can also be overridden by New York's "Pet Law." According to the Pet Law, a landlord effectively waives the right to enforce a no-pet clause when:
- the tenant has "openly" and "notoriously" kept a pet,
- the landlord (or an agent of the landlord) knew or should have known of the pet for at least three months, and
- the landlord does not take legal action to enforce the no-pet clause.
This waiver – in most jurisdictions in and around New York City – only applies to the specific pet that was kept openly and notoriously. So if you have a cat hidden in a bedroom but regularly take a dog out to pee and poop, the law only applies to the dog. Likewise, the protection does not continue if your pet dies and you want another pet.
2. The New York City Housing Authority & Dogs
If the property of your residence falls under the New York City Housing Authority, you are allowed to have one cat or one dog weighing 25 pounds or less. Prior to May 1, 2009, the allowable weight for dogs was 40 pounds, but if your dog was registered before that date, you were/are allowed to keep it. The Authority also bans certain breeds, so you need to make sure your dog is not on this list or else you could risk an eviction action.
3. Emotional Support Dogs
Dogs can be great emotional support for just about anyone, but for some people, they are legally permitted to have a dog for emotional support specifically. In New York City, persons with some psychiatric disabilities are allowed to have an emotional support animal even if the rental agency does not allow it. But to qualify, you must be found unable to partake in major life activities (e.g., work). So, not everyone with a psychiatric illness qualifies. The same is true about blind people.
4. Nuisance Dogs
If your pet is a nuisance, you can be evicted. Nuisance refers to a continuous court of conduct interfering in your neighbors' ability to live in their homes safely and comfortably, according to a 2003 case Domen Holding Co. v. Aranovich. Conduct that can amount to a nuisance include but is not limited to:
- loud barking,
- aggressive behavior,
- urinating or defecating in public areas of the building,
- noxious odors, and
- possession of more animals than the person can care for.
The Key Takeaway
Having a pet, like a dog, offers many wonderful benefits. They are companions. They are fun. They make you laugh. They care. And you care about your dog. So, make sure you know the laws so you can keep on loving your dog in the comfort of your home.