ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 

Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals

Int. No. 203

Council Members Michels, Freed, Henry, Marshall, Cruz, Duane, Koslowitz, Linares, and Porvenzano

A LOCAL LAW to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to clarifying the rights of pet owners and multiple dwellings and granting senior citizens residing in such buildings the right to keep pets in their apartments.

THIS BILL IS APPROVED

Int. No. 203 modifies the current 1983 pet law (Section 27-2009.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York). The current law prevents a landlord from enforcing no-pet provisions in a tenant’s apartment lease when the landlord fails to object to the pet’s presence within a three month time period. The amendment seeks two goals. First, it gives greater protection to senior citizens. Second, it clarifies the 1983 law’s original intent of affording a tenant the right to continued housing of pets throughout the duration of a tenant’s occupancy.

The amendment provides that people 62 years of age or older may neither be denied occupancy nor evicted from a multiple dwelling because they have a pet. The proposed amendment is designed to protect senior citizens from having to make a heart-wrenching choice between giving up their pets – frequently, their primary companions - to either remain in affordable housing, or move out of inadequate housing. Roughly 40,000 homeless dogs and cats are killed each year in the City’s animal shelters, too often because not enough homes are available for them.

Studies show that pets are tremendously important for the health and well-being of senior citizens. Hospitals and pet-based organizations throughout the city recognize this vital link. Many have started pet-assisted therapy programs based upon the medical benefits offered by animal companions. There are recognized benefits to elderly people diagnosed with chronic medical conditions (e.g., increased motor skills, lower blood pressure, mental stimulation). The proposed amendment protects the city’s elderly and their pets by recognizing the valuable benefits that each bestows upon the other.

Int. No. 203 also clarifies existing law by providing that once a landlord waives a no-pet clause in a tenant’s lease, any such waiver lasts for the duration of the tenant’s of occupancy in the apartment. The Committee believes that the proposed modification complies with the original intent of the 1983 law. Current appellate case law decided by the Appellate Term, First Department in Park Holding v. Emcke holds that a landlord’s waiver of a no-pet lease provision lasts for the lifetime of only one particular animal. By clarifying the pet law’s original intent, Int. No. 203 would prevent this unintentional and unwarranted result.