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Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby nmoya » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:19 pm

Hi.

I've had a dog for a few years in a rent stabilized apartment in Brooklyn. My lease said "no pets", but when a lot of other people in the building got dogs, I talked to the super and he said it wasn't being enforced. So I got one too. Everyone in the building knows and loves my dog.

Two years later, instead of getting a lease renewal, I get a Lease Violation notice.

I spoke to a lot of people about this , and I now know about the Law "27-2009.1" should hopefully protect me. A clause can't be unenforced for 2 years, then suddenly enforced.

I'm worried though. I can't prove that the old super knew about my pets (he passed away last year) and I the new super can just say something like he's never seen me with my dog before. I read one story online where someone kept their apartment because the landlord "should have known" because the dog being walked outside, but another story said that the lease was violated because the super had only first seen the dog a month earlier.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby TenantNet » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:54 pm

We moved this to the rent regulated forum. While the pet law isn't limited to RS tenants, your lease issues are RS.

First, bone up on these articles: http://tenant.net/Rights/pets.html

You say you've had the dog for a few years, and I'm assuming you take the dog out to pee and walk, so it would be "open and notorious" for more than 90 days. It's a question of the LL waiving their rights to enforce. While that may work with the pet law, don't assume that's the case with all housing laws.

I don't think you need to prove the old super knew. The better question is, can you prove when you got the dog? Shelter bills, Vet bills, food bills, etc. Do you pay a walker? That would be an excellent testimony.

What about neighbors? Their testimony can help.

As for your lease, the LL is not allowed to withhold a lease renewal even if there's a "violation."

Did you get a Notice to Cure? A Notice of Termination? Has the LL commenced a proceeding in Housing Court? Even with all that, they must offer a renewal. You can file with DHCR on the LL's failure to send the renewal offer. DHCR should freeze the rent until a lease is offered.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby JarredUSR » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:25 am

That's a big problem. Many apartment hunters don't own a pet and have no intention of buying a pet for their new apartment. As a result, these prospective tenants usually choose an apartment without caring much about the landlord's pet policy. Often enough, tenants change their mind in the middle of the lease term and suddenly have the desire for canine or feline companionship.

That's why all renters are suggested to check their lease before buying a pet to see what it says about having a pet in your apartment. However, in your case,since you already receive a violation, it would be better to prepare all documents supporting that your pet is not that harmful or destructive. Testimonies from neighbors could greatly help you. Provide information about a new pet to your landlord, including proof that the pet was spayed or neutered.

Even landlords who run pet-friendly buildings often require tenants to follow basic procedures aimed at ensuring everyone's health and safety, and protecting property.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:18 am

JarredUSR,

Your advice makes common sense, but we're in NYC and you may be unfamiliar with the NYC Pet Law, which provides that if a tenant keeps a pet "openly and notoriously" for 90 days or more, then the LL has waived any right to object no matter what the lease might say. This is for all tenants, not just rent regulated tenants.

In this case it appears the tenant has kept the dog openly for a few years. As dogs need to be walked daily - not to mention peeing and dumping - there's a presumption that the LL or his agents were aware of the pet. Also, what could be an issue, is if other tenants have been allowed to keep pets.

The poster did not indicate there's any issue with the dog itself.

One thing to clarify is the use of the word "violation" by the poster. We think of a "violation" as being something like a parking ticket issued by the government. That's not the case here. The so-called violation is a notice from the LL that the keeping of a dog is violating the terms of the lease. That is the standard that would be judged if the matter went to court.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby nmoya » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:30 am

Thanks!

I've read all those articles, and dozens more. I also went through all a bunch of the "Landlord" oriented sites, and up on all the things Landlords have tried to evict tenants under -- that is what has worried me. They often listed the court cases, and I could read up on why the Pet Law did or didn't apply.

Proving when I got the dog is not an issue. I have 2 years of vet bills, and the vaccination certificates are dated and list my address. I have dozens of photos of us playing on the front stoop over this time. The dog goes out regularly, and the various supers over the years have seen him. He's very popular with the other tenants and the neighbors. He also often sits in the window. He barks when they management company vacuums the halls, or when the building doors open.

My big worry is that I keep reading anecdotal stories of the Pet Law being good for tenants, but a lot of the cases are from the 90s early 2000s, and when I look at the articles on sites like LandlordvTenant, there are a lot of recent stories about the 3 month rule not counting until the super saw it.

I got a Notice To Cure. The response is due next week. I should have had a Lease Renewal over a month ago, he's notoriously late with them every year. It's my understanding that this is good, because he eventually needs to offer renewal and can't backdate the lease.

The losing court cases were also pretty clear - if I maintain the Pet Law protects me and he challenges it, the Courts decide if the Pet Law applies; if they don't agree, I can get anywhere from 1-2 months to "cure" the situation.`
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:18 pm

Part of the problem is that for each case, the outcome will depend on many factors, and often if either party has good attorneys or not, and the disposition of the judge.

You mention all those people who were aware of the dog. Maybe you can get some of them to testify if it goes to trial.

Keep in mind that Landlord v. Tenant is a pro-landlord rag.

No, I can't cite recent cases, but I have seen cases that go either way. If you are that concerned, I would then get a legal consultation from a good tenant lawyer that handles these things, and if needed, hire an attorney. As with any lawyer, speak to a few, but don't grab the first attorney that will promise you success. That is what you want to hear.

On the Notice to Cure, I would respond to the LL that youv'e had the dog for X time, can prove it (that's if you can prove when you got it), and that the dog is walked outside every day. I would not say the situation is cured, but that it's within your rights.

You don't know what will make the LL back off. It depends on if they are crazy, or vindictive, or if they have high-proced LL lawyers.

Perhaps the late lease has nothing to do with the dog situation. You can still file with DHCR any time. Actually they can't raise the rent until a lease is offered, so why force the issue?

As for curing, I've not seen 1-2 months. Usually a cure is much shorter, but that's in general. Maybe for pets it's different.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby nmoya » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:54 pm

If the landlord presses the issue, does anyone know the timeline for holdover proceedings? i.e. If they initiate a housing court case, will we have 3 days notice or 15 days, etc

I asked this in another topic, because I couldn't find anything on the forum that talked about the timeline. I think it would be useful to have an answer in a thread like that as it would apply to many landlord/tenant issues, and not be tucked away in a pet one.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby TenantNet » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:57 pm

Seriously, you must not have looked very hard as this subject is covered MANY times on this forum as well as the entire court section of the website. MANY times.

For a holdover, when the LL claims you've broken the lease or are creating a nuisance, for rent regulated tenants they usually first send you a 10-day Notice to Cure (search that term). Then, they would need to serve you with a Notice of Termination (seach that term). These are both predicate documents the LL must serve on tenants before a holdover proceeding is commenced in housing court for breach of lease or nuisance. Together the two documents take about a month of time.

Then the LL must serve a Petition and Notice of Petition. WHen properly served, you usually then have a week or so to put in your answer into Housing Court where you will get a date of the first appearance. On this date you MUST show up or you will get a default. If you can't make it have an attorney show up. On one recent occasion I was out of town (the LL knew that) so I had a friend show up to ask for an adjournment, which are usually granted on the first appearance.

During the holidays not much happens in court. Cases are routinely adjourned until after the new year. So if you got a written Notice to Cure today, you might get a Notice of Termination late in the month, then a petition in mid December.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby nmoya » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:38 am

Thank you for the info and fast reply.

I knew what all of those notices were, I just couldn't find the timelines of how they are served and the response times.0

It's really hard to find this info here. It's always treated as a follow-up question. Many posts are locked with people referred back to some original post -- so questions like this get dumped into the bottom of a screen or a few pages deep. While this issue has been covered in many posts, it is not the core topic of the post.

The main part of the site discusses these things in isolated contexts. If you know what you're doing, it makes sense -- if you're new to this, it is impossible to connect the dots.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby TenantNet » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:25 am

That's why we have en entire section of the website devoted to Housing Court.
http://www.tenant.net/Court/Howcourt/index.html
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby nmoya » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:48 am

First off, I want to say that I'm incredibly thankful and grateful to you. This site is an amazing resource and you are ridiculously helpful. I just want to convey the point that, as someone who is suddenly thrust into this, that your perspective is a bit biased. You know how to connect all the threads of information here. People who are struggling with a shady landlord do not -- and we've got the stress of dealing with that shady landlord who is aiming for turnovers so they can do Vacancy increases.

I know the section you cited. I saw that and read every page in it. Everything there deals with one specific issue at a time, even the overviews.

Nothing gives an overview of the entire process like you gave above. A cleaned up version like that would make a great addition.

Specifically lacking from any of those pages are the notions like:

• A Termination notice can follow at any point in time after a "Notice to Cure" is issued. There is no timeline based on what happens next though.
• A landlord then files a "Petition" and "Notice of Petition" which effectively starts the court process.
• There is "a week or so" to get an answer into Housing Court once the above happens.

The only info with a general timeline, is that if you fail to show to Housing Court there is a 72 hour default eviction.

With the holidays coming, and the landlord seeming to be increasingly weird and sketchy -- I'm trying to avoid going away for a week and coming home midway through a 72 hour default judgement.
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby trancedog » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:55 pm

Hey, I am a dog lover (as you can see from my nickname).
Mercifully, I do not live in NYC anymore and don't have to deal with all this "No Pets" crap. As a matter of fact, in my community pets are welcome and encouraged.
Anyway, if you give your super $50 he will swear he had personally presented you your dog :-)
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:52 pm

Trancedog (are you a pet hypnotist), are you actually recommending that the OP should suborn perjury here?
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby trancedog » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:36 am

It was meant as a joke but really, would it strike you as unusual for a guy to do anything for his best friend???
And no, I am not a hypnotist, I wish I were, though :-)
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Re: Open and Notorious Pet Ownership

Postby 10ants » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:28 am

I saw this gem in a lease. The attempt is clearly to get around the pet law. No idea if it works, but worth checking your lease to see if your LL has snuck this one in.

s. Animals – Identification. Independent of the Tenant’s obligation
not to have any pets without the Landlord’s written consent, the
Tenant also has the obligation to furnish the Landlord with two (2)
photographs of all animals in the Tenant’s possession. The photographs
shall be taken within seven (7) days after the Tenant’s acquisition
of an animal or within seven (7) days after the Tenant moves into
the Apartment, whichever is later. One such photograph shall be of
the animal’s face and the other photograph shall be of the animal’s
full body as seen from the side. Together with the photographs, the
Tenant shall give to the Landlord a statement setting forth the animal’s
species, age, weight, breed, if any, and colors. The Tenant’s full
compliance with this paragraph marked “Animals – Identification”
shall be considered to be a substantial obligation of the Tenant
under this Lease independent of all other obligations of this Lease.
Nothing in this paragraph marked “Animals – Identification” shall be
understood to waive any other right of the Landlord under this Lease.
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