Applicability of New York City’s “Pet Law” to condominiums

by | May 6, 2021 | Uncategorized |

New York City’s so-called “pet law” prevents an owner from enforcing a “no-pet” provision in a lease unless, within three months of discovering the pet, the owner commences a case (usually an eviction proceeding in housing court) to enforce the provision.  This section is only applicable to buildings located in New York City.

The language of the statute, (§27-2009.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York), is, seemingly, very clear in that it applies to “lease provision[s] prohibiting the keeping of such household pets.” The use of the term “lease” implies applicability to rentals as well as cooperatives, whose shareholders are issued proprietary leases and are usually governed by landlord-tenant rules, but exclusion of condominiums, whose unit owners are deeded real property. However, the answer is not so simple and depends on what borough the building is located in.

The appellate court covering Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn, the Second Department, has ruled that the pet law applies to condos because, if the lawmakers had intended to exclude condominiums, they could have said so explicitly – as they did with New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) buildings. Therefore, by not specifically excluding condominiums, they implicitly meant to include them.

In contrast, the First Department, which covers Manhattan and the Bronx, has held that since the Pet Law refers to “leases,” it does not apply to condos since the unit owners in a condominium own the real property (i.e. they get a deed for their unit).

Courts in both Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as a lower appellate court in the First Department have held that the Pet Law applies to renters of condominium units since they have leases with the Unit Owner even though the unit owner does not have a lease with the Condominium.

To recap, the Pet Law applies everywhere in New York City when a lease is involved (whether a rental or cooperative) and in Condominiums located in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. NYCHA buildings and condominiums located in Manhattan or the Bronx are not covered by the Pet Law.

Even in the First Department, a condominium must be mindful of the Pet Law waiver where the Unit is leased to tenants, as they may lose the ability to compel the Unit Owner to take action against the Tenant to enforce a no-pet or no-dog provision in the by-laws.