This is a great guest post from Amy Epstien. An important read for pet owners about their legal rights. Enjoy!
“My sister Robin has always loved dogs but she’s never had a one to call her own. Though she desperately wanted a dog as a kid, since our mother is dog phobic, we couldn’t get one. She planned to get one after college, but then learned one of her roommates was highly allergic to dog hair. And it was literally as she was signing the lease on her new apartment in New York that the broker said, “Oh, and I made a mistake, it turns out this apartment isn’t pet friendly.” Robin thought about her options as the ink on her signature dried, and briefly considered biting the broker on the leg. But she restrained herself because she’d remembered people talking about the “3 month rule.”
Robin believed that the rule implied that if a person could keep an animal in her apartment for three months without the landlord saying anything about it, the pet would be grandfathered in. When she mentioned this to me as she started searching puppyfinder.com, unfortunately I had to let her know that her path to pet ownership was going to be a bit longer…
In New York there is a law that says that if you keep a pet that your owner knows about for more than three months in a manner that is “open and notorious”—in other words “for all to see”—then you can’t be evicted even if you have a no-pets clause in your lease. But that was created to prevent a landlord who knew you had a pet from kicking you out for another reason later. For example, if the landlord realizes neighborhood rental prices have gone up, he can’t force you out by pointing to the no-pets policy if he’s known all along you had a dog or cat.
So let’s be perfectly clear: this law is not the “let’s sneak Toto around that meanie landlord” rule. It only applies if the landlord knew about the dog—and only if you’re living in New York. Keep in mind, most housing laws are municipal or township ordinances, so if you ever move, you’ll need to check the Web site of your township or county and look up the laws that pertain to landlord-tenant rules there.
But if you are in breach of the lease, the landlord has the right to kick both you and your little dog to the curb. If others in the building have dogs, he might allow them for an extra security deposit. If he refuses, though, at least you’ll know where he stands before you go violating the lease and risk facing the consequences.”
Attorney Amy Epstein Feldman and her sister, comedy writer Robin Epstein are the authors of the new book, So Sue Me, Jackass! It’s a look at how to avoid the everyday legal pitfalls we face in life and love, at work and at play, online and offline, in sickness and in health, and as parents and pet owners. www.sosuemejackass.com