Can landlord stop you from having a dog?

In New York City regardless of a lease clause to the contrary, tenants have the right to reside with their dogs, cats or other domesticated pets in their apartment.

NYC renters who love pets may become discouraged if they are unable to find housing that allows pets because they are frequently unaware of their legal rights in this regard. However, even though the lease forbids it, there are some situations in which you are permitted to own a pet.

Apart from the special circumstances of a service animal, tenants do not have the right to demand that the landlord permit pets, and the landlord may also set criteria for what types of pets are allowed and rules regarding them. The tenant should review their local county and city laws as they may also be relevant.

Landlords do have the right to control use and maintenance of property leased out, but such rights are constrained by various governmental restrictions, as detailed in our articles on landlords and tenants. In order to uphold the Constitutional right to equal housing, for instance, landlords are not permitted to reject a tenant based on their race, religion, ethnicity, or creed.

A physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional’s certification stating that the animal provides emotional support that lessens one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability, for instance, may be requested by the housing provider from people who are asking for a reasonable accommodation to have an assistance animal. Such documentation is sufficient if it proves that a person has a disability and that the animal in question will offer them emotional support or assistance with their disability.

Note that a landlord may never request access to a person’s medical records or contact information for a doctor, or to provide extensive or detailed information or documentation of a person’s physical or mental impairments.

Any type of pet can be banned from being brought onto leased property, and landlords have the option of allowing some animals but not others. As a result, a landlord may permit dogs but not cats, or dogs but only if there aren’t too many or they’re a certain size, etc. A landlord may even demand that a dog or cat be spayed or neutered in some states. Size of the animal, breed of the animal, etc. The landlord may use any of these methods to limit who is allowed to keep an animal on the property. Given that the landlord may forbid any animal, with the following exceptions, this makes sense.

Show off your pet’s best qualities

  • Create a “resume” for your pet that includes a photo, favorite activities, certifications, and even a short adoption story. Extras could include a letter of reference from a current or most recent landlord, written proof that your dog has completed a training class, and a letter from the vet showing your pet is spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccines.
  • Invite landlords to meet your pet.
  • Be prepared and willing to pay a reasonable extra amount in rent or pay a refundable pet deposit.
  • Despite “no pets” signs or breed or size restrictions, some landlords will still grant exceptions, especially if they themselves love animals. It is worthwhile to make a cordial inquiry by phone or in person.

    When signing a lease…

  • A lease that says “no pets allowed” should never be signed, even if other pets are seen on the property, or if a realtor, manager or landlord says it’s OK. The only words that matter are the ones written in the lease. If the lease contains “no pets” language, be sure that it is at least crossed out, if not replaced with language approving your pet(s), and both you and your landlord should initial the changes.
  • Pet deposits or monthly fees (if any) should be specified in writing in the lease. Prior to signing, a pet deposit or monthly pet fee can be discussed with the landlord and negotiated.
  • Keep a signed copy of the lease stored safely where it can be easily retrieved if needed.
  • Top 10 tips

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    Tips for keeping your pet healthy and your landlord happy

    Keep in mind that it is your duty as a renter who owns a pet to make sure that the apartment complex welcomes your pet. You might not only need to look for a new apartment if you allow your pet to break the rules, damage property, or make other people uncomfortable, but you might also make it difficult for other pet owners who want to move in. By following these suggestions, you can keep your pet in good health and happiness while also making your landlord happy to have you and your pet as residents. Check out our advice for all pet owners on how to afford spaying and neutering in addition to the species-specific advice below.

    Tips for cat owners:

    Tips for dog owners: