Call, write or email your City Council member. Urge him or her to become a co-sponsor of Intro. 294. To find out who your City Council member is click here or call the council at 212-788-7100.

Call, write or email Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, and ask him to schedule a hearing for Intro. 294.
Phone: 212-788-7284
Address: 250 Broadway, 18th Floor                NY, NY 10007

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New York City Pets in Housing Bills
City Council Intro. 13
City Council Intro. 294

New Yorkers with pets are especially vulnerable in the city's increasingly difficult housing market.

Two bills before the City Council would strengthen the rights of residents in apartments, coops and condos to keep pets. Both bills aim at clarifying the 1983 Pet Law, a law passed to keep landlords from using no-pet clauses that were never previously enforced as a pretext for evicting rent-regulated tenants who keep pets.

The Pet Law established that unless a landlord enforced such a clause within three months of the acquisition of the pet, the landlord has waived the right to enforce the clause.

Unfortunately, some judges interpreted this waiver to apply only to the pet or pets in residence when the clause is waived, and this has put many tenants in the crosshairs of landlords and condo and coop boards which move to evict longtime pet owners when they adopt a new cat or dog.

These tenants face either expensive court battles to stay in their homes, moving to new apartments or giving up their newly adopted pets. The legal bills easily mount into the tens of thousands of dollars. The emotional toll is equally high. And the pets who must find new homes often end up in the city's shelters, at the city's expense.

The pets in housing bill has a long and sad history. In 2004, the bill was approved in committee by a 7 to 4 vote, and by mid-2005 it had 33 co-sponsors - enough votes to easily pass - but was never brought for a vote before the full council. Opposition from the real estate industry was intense and managed to keep the bill bottled up despite overwhelming public support.

Intro. 294, the original bill, would restore the initial intention of the Pet Law. It would clarify that the waiver of the no-pet clause applies for the duration of the tenancy, not the life of the pet or pets in residence at the time of the waiver. And, importantly, it would apply to residents in apartments, coops and condos.

Intro. 13 would grant the tenancy-based waiver for rental tenants only. For coop and condo residents, the waiver would apply only to the pet or pets for which it was given. That means residents of coops and condos with no-pet rules would not be allowed to adopt a new pet.

Is that a big deal? Yes. Though roughly 80% of coops and condos allow pets, they too have tried to evict tenants using no-pet clauses that were never previously enforced. And as the pets in housing bill gained support in past few years, a troubling trend developed. Coop and condo boards began passing no-pet rules that would require pet-owning residents to move if they wanted to adopt another animal or replace a pet who had died.

Intro. 13 was drafted to meet the objections of coop and condo interests. But even with significant changes, the bill has been in the council for over a year without even getting a hearing before the Housing and Buildings Committee. It appears that the compromises Intro. 13 made didn't diminish the opposition from the real estate industry.

Animal Friendly NYC endorses Intro. 294, the stronger of the two bills, because it gives pet owners among the city's 360,000 coop and condo households the same legal protection as renters.

The council has heard from the real estate industry. Now it needs to hear from voters.

1. Call, write or email your council member. Urge her or him to become a co-sponsor of Intro. 294.

2. Call, write or email Erik Martin Dilan, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, and ask him to hold a hearing on Intro. 294.

Remind them:

  • New Yorkers love their pets. By overwhelming majority we're apartment dwellers, whether it's a rental, coop or condo. With near-zero vacancy rates and prohibitive real estate prices, most of us don't have a lot of housing alternatives.
  • Unscrupulous landlords can use the current loophole to harass tenants with pets to get them to leave rent-regulated apartments.
  • Coop and condo boards can pass no-pet rules that would require current pet owners to move if they decide to adopt another pet or replace a pet who has died.
  • Every year, more than 20,000 healthy, adoptable animals are put down in New York City. Opening more homes mean fewer animals killed.
  • This bill does not conflict with existing laws concerning the keeping of animals in multiple dwellings.
  • It won't cost the city a cent.
  • New York law should recognize what millions of New Yorkers with pets know: that pets are members of the family.

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