Q&A: Evicted For Having a Pet?

Evicted For Having a Pet?

Q I live in a co-op where pets are specifically not allowed. This is made very clear in writing to residents before they move into the co-op. If a resident comes in, buys a pet, and refuses to get rid of it, even after being told to do so in writing by the board, is that by itself an evictionable action?

--Curious Tenant

A “If authorized under the co-op’s documents (typically the proprietary lease),” says attorney Tara Snow of Novitt, Sahr & Snow, LLP, in Kew Gardens, “co-op boards may pass rules and regulations that restrict the harboring of pets. A violation of a rule or regulation can be a reason for terminating the shareholder’s proprietary lease that could ultimately result in an eviction of the resident. However, in New York City and Westchester County, there is a statute referred to as the ‘Pet Law,’ which states that a landlord (in this case the co-op) has only ninety days from the discovery of the pet to start a summary proceeding to enforce the landlord’s no pet rule. If the landlord fails to commence the proceeding within that time frame, the right to enforce the co-op’s rule is deemed waived. Any action brought after the ninety days have elapsed would be contrary to the law and the resident could not be evicted for violation of the no pet/dog rule.

“Additionally, in the event the shareholder is requesting to keep the pet as an accommodation to assist a resident with a disability the board may be required to make an exception to its policy and allow the resident to keep the pet if certain criteria are met.”

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