Tenants in New York and elsewhere adore animals of all shapes and sizes, while landlords often view them with skepticism or hostility. Individual people may benefit from the companionship of animals and the structure that they can provide for daily life, but the animals could very well damage a rental property. Tenants are often keen to secure housing where keeping a pet is an option.
There are certain circumstances in which New York landlords will accommodate the animals of their tenants. What situations may allow those who rent a property to keep a pet on the premises?
Special terms in a lease
Some New York landlords will allow pets, provided that the circumstances meet certain standards. Tenants may need to fill out a separate application for the pet that includes information about their veterinary care records. They may need to pay a deposit or an additional cleaning fee. There might even be a monthly rental charge for the pet in addition to the standard rent. Landlords generally get to set the terms that apply
For decades, federal law has allowed individuals to utilize dogs and miniature horses as service animals. Landlords have an obligation to accommodate somebody if they require a service animal to perform medical functions for them. Federal law treats such animals, when properly trained, as a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disabling medical condition.
Emotional support animals
Emotional support animals almost blur the line between household pets and service animals. They often have no training whatsoever but may serve an important purpose by helping an owner regulate their emotions. In theory, emotional support animals also provide a necessary service to those with disabling medical conditions, and therefore New York considers them a reasonable accommodation. Only in cases where allowing them would cause undue hardship can landlords limit their presence.
Landlords concerned about service animals and emotional support animals may need to tread carefully to avoid violating the rights of their tenants. Understanding when tenants may lawfully have animals present in rental units may help landlords or tenants more effectively navigate a dispute about whether someone can have an animal and what, if any, fees may apply.