The Real.Est List
Rent Coach: Visiting dog sparks eviction
Q. My brother has an emotional support dog that he keeps because it aids him with a medical condition that he has had for years. Last month, after my brother visited my apartment with the dog, my landlord complained that the dog was in our building in violation of our “no pets” policy.
I explained that we can provide documentation that the animal is necessary because of a disability, but he refused to listen. My brother visited again with his dog last week, and now my landlord has served me with eviction papers. What can I do?
A. You probably have a strong claim against your landlord for discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act. Though your building may generally have a “no pets” policy, the law requires landlords to make “reasonable accommodations” for tenants (and likely their guests) that have disabilities.
I suggest that you immediately speak with an attorney who has experience with the NYC Housing Courts to deal with the eviction proceeding. It’s important that you respond to the court’s paperwork in a timely manner, so do not delay. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) investigates claims of housing discrimination and you can file an online claim with their agency. You can also contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights for more information.
Mike Akerly is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.