The City Council is at it again with another attempt to create havoc for our co-ops. Intro 13, sponsored by Councilman Tony Avella is artfully crafted to conceal its true objective: Prohibit the right of co-ops and condos to control pet ownership in their buildings. When will council members realize that co-ops and condos are governed by boards of directors that are freely and fairly elected by those living in their communities and are empowered to set policies and house rules in order to create a meaningful quality of life for the hundreds if not thousands who live there? I know because I am the President of Glen Oaks Village, New York’s largest garden apartment co-op with 10,000 residents. Deciding whether to allow pets or not is fraught with many considerations and is best left to those living in their co-ops.
A casual reader of Intro 13 might ask, “What’s so bad about this fuzzy-sounding “Pets in Housing” bill that only tries to clarify the rights of pet owners?” Plenty! It elevates the rights of pet owners over those of a duly elected board of directors. Intro 13 dictates to all multi-family dwellings, including co-ops and condos, that:
Pets cannot be prohibited if: 1) a resident harbors such a pet and doesn’t try to hide it from management or its agents for 90 days, and 2) the owner or its agents has knowledge of this, and 3) the owner fails to commence a legal action within that time frame.
Sure, in a high-rise co-op with a doorman at a common entrance that all residents pass through, spotting an illegal pet is easy. But most affordable co-ops don’t have doormen, or are garden-apartment variety, in which nearly everyone has their own entrance and where rear areas and multiple pathways cannot be patrolled simultaneously by a limited security force. In this scenario the possibility of finding an illegal pet being harbored “openly” during this limited time frame is unlikely. And if not discovered, according to Intro 13, any “lease provision prohibiting the keeping of such household pets…shall be deemed waived”. And since co-op shareholders under the law cannot be treated differently, the bill in effect nullifies pet prohibitions for everyone!
The way this legislation defines “management knowledge” is surreal. Management or its agents are defined broadly to include the management company, the co-op’s security company and even outside contractorshired by the co-op who are on the property at least 2 times during the month the resident is harboring the pet. So if the co-op painting contractor was working nearby the home of the illegal pet owner for at least 2 days during the month and said nothing about seeing “Fido” being taken for a walk, then according to this bill, management is deemed to have had prior knowledge of the offending pet and all house rules or lease provisions prohibiting such ownership is invalidated.