Helping Landlords & Tenants Resolve Pet-Related Eviction Disputes

Renting with pets can be a tricky issue for both landlords and tenants. On one hand, landlords have understandable reasons for wanting to prohibit renters from having pets: concerns about noise, property damage and liability if a pet becomes aggressive with other tenants. On the other hand, tenants should be able to feel at home in their rented space, and that often includes keeping a beloved family pet.

If you are a landlord or tenant involved in a pet dispute that could escalate to eviction, you should understand your rights and obligations under local pet laws and ordinances. Our attorney has been practicing New York City landlord-tenant law for more than 15 years. We are ready to help you resolve your pet eviction dispute as efficiently and peacefully as possible.

Tenant Rights And Exceptions To No-Pets Clauses In Leases

It is common for leases and rental agreements to prohibit pets. If you already own a pet, but agree to sign a lease with a no-pets clause, you don't have much recourse when the landlord enforces the terms of the lease.

But there are exceptions to this rule under New York City's pet law. The most prominent is a waiver if you have kept a pet openly for a certain period of time. Let's say that you adopted a dog despite the no-pets rule and kept it openly in your apartment for three months. If your landlord knew or should have known about the dog, but did not take action to enforce the rule, you have essentially earned the right to keep it. That being said, these conditions must be met:

  • The pet has not created and will not create a nuisance.
  • Neither the landlord nor anyone working on behalf of the landlord has taken action to enforce the no-pets clause.
  • You have not tried to hide the pet in any way.
  • The pet has been in your apartment for at least 90 days.
  • Your landlord is not the New York City Housing Authority, which is exempt from this exception.

You may also be exempt from a no-pets clause if you rely on a service animal to cope with a disability or for emotional support. It is always best to have documentation to support your claim that the animal is a service animal and not simply a pet.

Even if you are in a pet-friendly building, you may be facing eviction because of a problem with your pet, such as complaints from other tenants about noise, property damage or aggressive behavior. If this is the case, please contact us to discuss your legal options in a free consultation.

Landlord Rights And Responsibilities Related To Pets

As mentioned above, landlords must be consistent in enforcing no-pets clause included in their leases. This means:

  • Always following up with tenants as soon as you notice a violation or potential violation of the no-pets policy
  • Ensuring that neither you nor anyone on your staff gives verbal permission for tenants to keep pets. This can supersede a lease in some cases.
  • Ensuring that you maintain a safe, crime-free premises so that tenants do not use personal protection or security as reasons to keep dogs

If you are clear about the rules and expectations and consistent in enforcing them, you will likely see fewer violations of no-pets clause and will be in a better position to obtain legal remedies when a tenant does violate this clause.

Are You In A Dispute Involving A Pet? Contact Us For A Free Consultation.

Located in the Forest Hills neighborhood, The Law Office of Seth Rosenfeld, Esq., serves clients throughout Queens. To take advantage of a free initial consultation with our experienced lawyer, call us at 800-699-1594 or send us an email.