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My co-op won't let my daughter bring her dog when she visits. What can I do?

By Alanna Schubach | November 22, 2021 - 1:30PM 

The co-op can enforce this rule, unless the dog is a service animal. 

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Question:

My daughter likes to bring her dog when she comes to visit me, but my co-op says she is no longer allowed to do so. Can a co-op require special permission for a family member to visit with their pets or even forbid it entirely?

Answer:

A co-op can set a strict policy that forbids dogs in the building—including those that belong to visitors, our experts say.

"A cooperative board would have the authority to set the rules and regulations for the operation of its building, and banning guests from bringing pets into the building would be within a board’s authority to decide," says Jeffrey Reich, a partner in the law firm of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. 

A co-op's pet policies should be outlined in the building's house rules—a good reason to take a close look before you move in. Many co-ops do forbid pets over a certain size, or have specific rules preventing owners from bringing pets into common spaces. 

Your co-op's rules for pets may seem especially strict, but the board is within its rights to uphold them. The only legal exception is for service animals. 

"If the dog is an emotional support animal or service animal, the owner needs to bring the official paperwork which verifies this fact," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "In that case, I would make sure that the management knows about a visiting emotional support animal visit in advance, just to be safe."

Consult the city's rules for emotional support animals in residential buildings 

If your daughter's dog doesn't fit this criteria, your other recourse is a political one. You and your fellow shareholders could appeal to the board at the annual meeting, or call for a special meeting, and ask members to reconsider these rules.

"There is the possibility of voting in a new board, which supports a more liberal approach to the guest animal issue," Reich says. 


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