Does Tenant Need to Keep Eight Dogs as a Reasonable Accommodation?

LVT Number: #31148

Landlord cooperative corporation sued shareholder tenant for violating her proprietary lease by keeping eight dogs and two cats in her apartment. This created noise and odors that other residents complained about. Landlord didn't seek eviction but sought removal of five of the eight dogs.

Tenant argued that she was disabled after suffering a stroke at a young age. She suffered from major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Her doctor said she needed all the pets to prevent her from becoming suicidal. Tenant asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial. She claimed that landlord had waived its right to object to the dogs by not seeking removal within three months after she acquired each one. Tenant also claimed that she needed all the animals as a reasonable accommodation for her disability.

The court ruled against tenant. A trial was needed to determine the facts. Landlord and tenant were subject to the NYC pet waiver law, requiring tenant to show that she had openly and notoriously harbored a pet, that landlord knew about the pet, and landlord failed to sue tenant within 90 days to seek removal of a pet. There was a dispute as to whether landlord's staff knew tenant had more than three dogs as she walked them three-at-a-time, and also walked some of her neighbor's dogs. And each dog was subject to a separate determination of whether landlord had waived a right to object.

Tenant also argued that landlord hadn't demonstrated that she created a nuisance. But landlord didn't file a nuisance claim. It claimed that tenant violated provisions of her proprietary lease by letting her dogs create unreasonable noise, unreasonable annoyance to other residents, and failing to maintain hygiene in the apartment. The building's house rules also called for supervision of pets. House rules also required tenants to seek permission to keep pets. And tenant failed to show that she didn't violate the lease.

Landlord didn't dispute that tenant was disabled, and her doctor claimed she needed all eight dogs. But tenant hadn't demonstrated that permitting her to keep eight dogs was a reasonable accommodation for her disability. There were no court cases cited where a landlord had to permit a disabled person to keep multiple emotional support dogs as a reasonable accommodation.