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The New Pet Policy

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Pet policies vary from building to building. Some building don’t allow pets at all, while others have very specific rules on the type of animal, its breed, size, temperament, etc. This can be very frustrating for a home buyer that has found the perfect apartment, but is restricted to bring its pet companion along. This issue was the main focus of the New York City Human Rights Commission’s guidance entitled “Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination of the Basis of Disability” published in June 2018. The paper talked about both service and emotional support animals, and the owner’s right to bring them along to whatever apartment they live in.

The housing provider cannot refuse housing for a person that brings along a service or emotional support animal. The New York City Human Rights Commission’s guidance states that, “Housing providers are required to reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities who rely on service animals or emotional support animals by providing exceptions to ‘no pet’ or ‘no dog’ policies. A service animal is an animal that does work or performs tasks for an individual with a disability.”[1] An example of a service animal would include a seeing-eye dog for someone with visual impairment. Another example of an emotional support animal would include any type of animal, usually a dog or cat that provides companionship and therapeutic benefits. The guide goes on to say, “If housing providers, (and that includes co-ops under their proprietary leases -Ed.) have ‘no-pets’ policies, charge pet fees, or have breed, weight, or size restrictions on pets, they must make exceptions to these policies in situations in which a resident requests to keep a service animal or emotional support animal in their housing unit due to a disability, unless doing so would cause the housing provider an undue hardship.”[2] The housing provider would have to prove that the “undue hardship” truly can’t be figured out with the owner. Unless the animal is violent and aggressive, with no means of resolution, the housing provider would have to come to a compromise with the owner. 

This guidance can easily be manipulated through a supporting letter from your family doctor. It ends up that anyone can challenge the no pet policy through the claim of an emotional support animal. This loophole clearly opens up the door for any resident to bring along a pet. Maybe it’s time that we get rid of the no-pet policy once and for all.


[1] Sidransky, A.J., (November, 2018), Your Pet Policy vs. NYC’s Human Rights Commission. Retrieved from The Cooperator https://cooperator.com/article/your-pet-policy-vs-nycs-human-rights-commission/full#cut Accessed on November 27, 2018

[2] Ib.

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