There are certain circumstances in which a tenant who lives in an NYC apartment may be permitted to keep a pet in their residence, despite a “no-pets” clause in a lease. One situation under which a “no-pets” clause in a lease may be deemed waived falls under NYC Administrative Code § 27-2009.1 (commonly known as NYC’s “Pet Law”). While it is best to first discuss with your landlord whether you may be permitted to bring a pet into your apartment, this law can protect a tenant and their pet if the landlord knew -- or should have known -- about the pet’s presence for a period of three months or more. This means that a landlord only has three months from the time they found out about the pet’s presence to take legal action to enforce a “no-pets” lease provision.
However, there are certain other requirements which must be met concerning the waiver of the lease provision. First, the pet must not cause damage to the premises or pose a nuisance or health risk to other tenants. Secondly, the law also only applies to buildings with three or more apartments; co-operative housing; and condominium owners in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. It does not apply to the New York City Housing Authority.
Another requirement for a tenant to prevail under the Pet Law is that the pet must have been kept openly and notoriously. However, it should be noted that in some cases, the landlord themselves need not have actually seen the pet. It may be enough that an agent of the landlord knew about the pet, such as a doorman, or a super. Keeping a pet “openly” in an NYC apartment means that you did not take any measures to hide or conceal the pet such as when walking it through public areas of the building, or when having repair work performed inside your apartment. In addition, you must not have made any misrepresentations as to your ownership of the pet.
Another situation that may allow for a pet in an otherwise “no-pets” building is if the pet has been properly established and documented as an emotional support animal. In this case, the landlord may be legally required to grant a tenant a reasonable accommodation.
If your landlord has commenced legal action against you due to the presence of your pet, and you believe that you can prove that the landlord knew, or should have known about the pet for over three months, you may be able to assert a defense under NYC’s Pet Law. It is best to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the NYC Pet Law regarding the specifics of your situation.
The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to handle matters concerning animal and pet law issues and represent clients throughout the five boroughs of NYC, Westchester, and Long Island. To schedule a consultation concerning your animal or pet law matter, call (646) 397-6844. Consultations are by appointment only and can be scheduled in Manhattan or Melville, Long Island for the convenience of clients.
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