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"No paws on the floor": the future of pet rules in apartment buildings?

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Landlords and co-op boards can be notoriously strict when it comes to pets, but according to the Upper West Side blog West Side Rag, the Hawthorn Park rental building has taken its pet policy to a whole new level, insisting that tenants carry their pets while in the elevator and common spaces, "with no paws touching the lobby floor."

The building is mainly concerned about dogs having, shall we say, "accidents" in common spaces, one building resident explained to the New York Post, which later picked up the news. So is no-paws-on-the-floor an effective (if roundabout) way to reinforce the common size limits on dogs—after all, most of us couldn't shoulder the full weight of a Saint Bernard—or the kind of rule that could easily be skirted with, say, a wheeled carrier or a granny cart?

"You can have the rule, but to actually enforce it gets tricky," Dean Roberts, a real estate attorney at Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, tells us. Requests to own service animals, including for emotional disabilities, are getting more common (and hard to turn down even if they aren't legitimate). If an owner with a disability is physically unable to carry their service dog to comply with the rules, the building could find itself legally in the wrong, Roberts says. And while you can certainly require tenants without disabilities to carry their pets in common areas, Roberts says, owners could conceivably just use wheeled carriers, allowing them to skirt the size issue (though still potentially protecting your building's floors). Mostly, though, it can just be tough to catch a wayward tenant in the act. 

Instead of the no-paws-on-the-floor policy, buildings sometimes require either a carrier or a short leash for pets in common spaces, he adds. Broadway Realty President and pet owner Elliot Bogod also notes that a number of buildings require pets to travel in the service elevator. When that's not viable and "if the dog is too heavy to be picked up," he says, "its owner must ask elevator riders if [the dog is] permitted to ride along," and if not, wait for the next elevator.

Bottom line: your building's management might not be too fond of Fido (and will likely impose plenty of restrictions on his comings and goings), but they probably won't make you carry him across the threshold.

Related: 

End of an Era: why co-ops should allow dogs (sponsored)

9 things to consider before introducing a dog to your NYC apartment

A request for a service animal in a pet-free building: 3 steps to take

Ask an Expert: can my dog stay overnight in a no-pet building?

The dog poop files: NYC nabes with the most canine complaints

Ask an Expert: do I really have to muzzle my dog in the elevator?

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