Do you have a dog? Yes? Well, living in NYC with your pooch may be heaven or hell. Gotham City is a tough place but one full of amazing humans – and Dog People are The Best People. Living in New York is remarkably rewarding but it poses its own set of challenges for dog parents, especially those who have a large dog or one that is perceived as an “aggressive” breed.
The subject of “aggressive” breeds gets me off my rocker because every dog – just as people- is an individual with their own character, likes, dislikes, and personality. So to label a whole breed as “aggressive” is mildly put, inaccurate, and untrue. And while so much more progress needs to be made to stop the demonization of dogs – and mostly pitties let’s face it – New Yorkers are resourceful and find a way to be together with their beloved pets.
Since COVID, many New Yorkers have adopted a pup to deal with social isolation and loneliness. While that has been incredible for non-profits and dog rescue organizations, it’s important to make sure your building allows dogs or find one that does.
To understand some of the unique challenges that dog parents in NYC face, we need to understand the types of homes in the city and what your rights and options are in each one.
Let me explain!
There are 2 types of living situations in NYC:
Within those, there are multiple different permutations but today I’d like to discuss with you what you can expect from the different types of rental properties. Typically, the most common type of rental property are apartments managed by large management companies. In those cases the building management has a set of rules that are pretty rigid and there is little chance of convincing your landlord – represented by the management company – to deviate from their rules and accommodate you and your pet.
Another type of a landlord is the small individual landlord – not a large corporation. Usually renting from a small individual landlord may be a good bet for people with a large dog, or multiple dogs, as the owner may be more flexible and understanding than a large building with a firm set of rules.
One silver lining of the 2020 COVID exodus was the resulting higher-than-usual rental vacancy rate hence many landlords were relaxing their pet policies. As a way to lure tenants in their properties without necessarily dropping their prices, some NYC landlords decided to relax their pet rules and allow dogs, or allow bigger dogs.
One factor that changed the game for many tenants are the new laws that took effect in June 2019. In June 2019, the NY Governor signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 which affected multiple aspects of the rental process including limiting the rental application fees to only $20 which is usually the credit check fee. The new law prohibited landlords from collecting more than the first month’s rent and the security deposit cannot exceed one month’s rent. One perhaps unintended consequence of the law is that many small landlords who were willing to accept a pet but would collect a pet deposit, are now saying a firm NO to pets since they are no longer allowed to collect a pet deposit to hedge against any sort of damage that your pet may cause. So while the law limited the fees and deposits a landlord can collect, it has also affected pet parents.
There is a vast difference of the experiences of tenants who have a tiny chihuahua
versus the dog parents of a Pitbull or a large dog. There is a long standing misconception that a large dog may cause more damage than a small dog – which as the proud mama of two Chihuahua-mixes I can assure you is untrue — and unfortunately it affects tenants disproportionally.
While many individual landlords and buildings have breed and size restrictions, thankfully New York City does not have an outright ban on pitbulls but the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) banned a number of breeds from its’ developments, including Pitbulls and Rottweilers.
Below are some tips to get your dog accepted into your new rental home: