Did You Just Lose the Right to Get Rid of Fido?
Many Long Island landlords don’t want pets in their apartments. And for the most part, if you discover a tenant in your apartment who has a pet then you’re usually safe to move against that tenant for violating your lease.
But not always. There are two instances you need to know about in which you can’t do a thing.
The first is if the dog or cat is a service animal. You also do not have to allow the animal to stay if it is posing a significant threat to the health and safety and others (but it’s a really good idea to make sure you can back that before you go after someone’s seeing-eye dog).
Be careful when attempting to verify the animal is a service animal. If you are not part of a Title II ADA program or any other government housing program then you may ask for basic confirmation of the disability and the need for a service animal. If you are part of a government housing program then you are only permitted to ask if the animal is a service animal.
You do not have to allow an emotional support animal under New York law. However, if your tenant can provide medical proof of need allowing the emotional support animal might just be a nice thing to do. You could request the tenant sign a lease rider which indicates he or she will pay for any damages done by the presence of said emotional support animal.
But most landlords probably aren’t that worried about service animals once they understand what’s going on.
So let’s talk about the second time you might lose the ability to remove a tenant who brings a dog into your apartment (or a cat) when your lease specifically prohibits it: the “open and notorious” exception.
If you find out about the pet and wait more than 90 days to do anything about it, then under Section 27-2009.1 of the Housing Maintenance Code, you’ll have waived your right to enforce that clause of the lease. Specifically, the language says:
“Where a tenant in a multiple dwelling openly and notoriously for a period of three months or more following taking possession of a unit, harbors or has harbored a household pet or pets, the harboring of which is not prohibited by the multiple dwelling law, the housing maintenance or the health codes of the city of New York or any other applicable law, and the owner or his or her agent has knowledge of this fact, and such owner fails within this three month period to commence a summary proceeding or action to enforce a lease provision prohibiting the keeping of such household pets, such lease provision shall be deemed waived.”
While you can attempt to argue you really didn’t know anything about the pet within the allotted time period, you’re taking a risk by waiting. There’s no risk at all to moving quickly. No matter how tough the State of New York has gotten on landlords lately, you still have the right to enforce the lease your tenant signed.
Questions? Contact the Law Office of Sami Perez today to learn more.