Can I evict a tenant that brought a pet into a unit?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | Residential Real Estate

A dog may be a man’s best friend. However, most landlords don’t quite love these fluffy canines. And this explains why most lease agreements come with a “no pet” clause. But what happens when, in spite of this clause, a tenant insists on bringing a dog into the rented property? Can you evict or stop them from renting your property?

Regardless of how upset you are about your tenant’s decision to bring a pet into the rented property, it is important to understand that you cannot act outside the provisions of the law. If you evict them against the law, your action may be deemed discriminatory. 

Understanding a tenant’s rights

New York City Human Rights Law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants or potential tenants based on their protected characteristics. This means that you cannot discriminate against a tenant based on their disability.

Additionally, this law requires landlords to make appropriate adjustments to accommodate renters with disabilities. This includes accommodating ailing or disabled renters who own assistance animals on their properties despite the existence of “no pet” policies on their lease agreements. This is commonly referred to as “reasonable accommodation.”

What animals does the “reasonable accommodation” rule apply to?

Per New York law, the following animals are considered “assistance animals”:

Service animals – these refer to animals that are specially trained to improve the quality of life for disabled individuals such as those with mental health, visual or emotional needs. These include:

  • Service dogs that are trained to perform specific tasks like collecting dropped items, pulling wheelchairs or performing rescue work
  • Signal and guide dogs
  • Miniature horses

Support animals – also known as comfort or emotional support animals, these animals may or may not be trained. They primarily provide emotional support to disabled individuals.

Can you evict a tenant who violates a “no pet” clause?

Well, this depends on whether the client is disabled or not as well as whether the pet in question qualifies as an assistance animal. That said, learning more about New York residential real estate laws can help you make an informed decision when handling a landlord–tenant dispute.