New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Forbidden Pets

Borah Goldstein Altschuler
Nahins & Goidel
Eric M. Goidel, Partner


A large cooperative development with multiple buildings and with a “no-pet” policy found itself with many shareholders who had acquired pets. Given the size of the development and the fact that there still remained a significant number of rent-stabilized tenants who were entitled to harbor pets, even when a resident was observed walking a pet, the board and management had difficulty in determining whether the pet was permitted. When legitimate cases were begun, they were often dismissed, because they were not started in a timely manner – within 90 days of discovery. On occasions, residents pointed to other neighbors who had subsequently acquired pets but were not being similarly prosecuted, arguing that there was ongoing selective enforcement. Notwithstanding a no-pet policy, the development was being overrun with pets and had limited remedies.

Legal Lesson

We advised the board to change its policy to allow one pet per apartment and require an application and identification process with licensing by management (dog tags) and with a picture of the pet placed in the apartment file. Certain breeds were prohibited and the permissible size of future pets was regulated. A New York City pet license, as well as cooperative apartment renters insurance, was required. Additionally, we recommended that an annual fee be paid by residents to deal with extra maintenance and landscaping expenses. Residents who acquired pets without submitting to this process or residents who acquired more than one pet could now be subject to legal action. Pets that posed a nuisance could still be removed from the property. Shareholders could also be billed for damage to the development’s property.

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