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Must New York landlords allow service animals for the disabled?

In a word, yes. Many people living with a disability experience great benefits from the presence of a service or assistance animal. However, some New York landlords do not permit pets inside their rental units.

Considering the massive amount of damage animals can cause to a house or an apartment, no-pet policies are understandable. Still, property owners who try to disallow service or assistance animals may face landlord-tenant disputes. To remain in compliance with the nation's Fair Housing Act (FHA), it is wise to learn how the law works.

Most landlords know that they must provide reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities. However, they might not realize that permitting service and assistance animals is a part of the reasonable accommodations regulation. As long as the tenant provides proof that the animal is necessary, you must allow its presence in your rental.

Many people think that service animals and assistance animals are the same. However, they are not. Service animals perform specific tasks for people. For example, a blind tenant might need the services a guide dog provides. An assistance animal, on the other hand, may provide specific services and/or it may simply give the disabled emotional support. An example of an assistance animal is a cat that helps ease depression or anxiety.

Despite the FHA's rules, property owners can pursue a legal remedy if a service or assistance animal becomes a nuisance to other renters or the property owner. While the law seeks to make certain that the rights of disabled tenants remain protected, it also considers the needs and rights of landlords as well.

An attorney with experience helping property owners in landlord-tenant disputes can help. If a service or assistance animal is causing problems in one of your rental properties, consider reaching out for legal assistance.

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