Keeping Your Dog When Your Landlord Says No Pets

A dog lying in a person's bed. Keeping your dog in your apartment when your landlord says no pets

What can you do when you have a dog but your landlord says no pets? Many buildings have a no pet policy or require a prohibitive monthly “pet fee”. If you have a dog, you know they’re a member of your family, and family comes before real estate. But depending on where you live, finding a pet-friendly rental can be a challenge.  

In addition to searching for a pet-friendly rental, there are a few other options for a landlord that says no pets. 

Option 1: Just Ask for a “No Pet Policy” Exception

If you’re not renting from a property management company, a private landlord might be willing to make an exception for your pet or dog. You can get creative here and put together a pet resume. Share pictures, tell your landlord about your pet’s routine and explain the ways in which you will care for your pet to make sure there will be no damage or noise issues. It can be a good idea to include training certificates, a letter from a recent landlord, or office manager (if you take the dog to work), and a spay or neuter certificate. Show your landlord that you are a responsible pet owner.  

Dog with flower headband for a no pet allowed resume
A good headshot never hurts

If you are able to come to an agreement, make sure to document the terms in writing. You can create a lease addendum or add a pet clause to your existing lease. It’s a good idea to include the breed and size of your pet. As well, track deposits or fees to cover potential damages caused by the animal.  

Option 2) Beg for Forgiveness 

We really do not recommend this approach for getting a dog past a landlord’s no pet policy. If you’ve assessed your situation and believe it’s the right way forward, go for it. Know that if (or when) your landlord discovers your pet they could come at you with a pet fine for violating your lease or require you to remove the pet.  

If your landlord tries to punish you with an exorbitant amount, like a fee per day of having the pet, you can go to civil court to dispute the charge, but not the outcome. You will still have to remove the pet or move out. A housing requirement is not a good reason to give up an animal. Please don’t let things come to that point.  

In NYC some tenants can try to get by on the “three month law” which states that if you have a companion animal in your apartment “openly and notoriously” for three months, “any no-companion animal clause in a lease is considered waived and unenforceable.” This means you would not try to hide or sneak your pet around. If the landlord doesn’t say anything for three months, you’re in the clear. However, if you are caught within that time frame, you can be asked to remove the animal or pay a fee.  It’s high risk to get past a no pet policy, and specific to New York.  

Option 3) Negotiate a Price to Keep Your Pet In Your Building

If you are in a position to do so, you can negotiate to keep a pet. A good place to start is with an extra security deposit, which could be one- or two-months’ rent. You’ll get it back in the end and it shows you are serious. If monetary padding is not an option, consider taking on a beautification project. Anything you can think of to increase the value of the property. Explore all possible roads and don’t overlook friendship. Developing a personal relationship with your landlord with likely go the farthest.  

Option 4) Reasonable Accommodation 

If you are eligible to maintain a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal, your landlord may have to provide reasonable accommodations for you and your animal, even if the lease says no pets. To determine if you might be eligible to maintain a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal and understand the differences, check out our comprehensive guide. If you are eligible, you may have a legal right to keep your pet.  

If a person has a disability, the Fair Housing Act requires a landlord or homeowner’s association to make an accommodation such as waiving a no-pet rule or pet deposit.  

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals are not excused from bad behavior.  

If a dog is causing damage or making noise a landlord can ask you to remove them. If you maintain an Emotional Support Animal that does not accompany you during the day, check out these common behavioral issues and how to avoid them when you’re not home.  

Housing issues are one of the top reasons that animals end up in shelters.  

If you are being faced with an eviction notice, seek legal help. Your landlord might be putting urgency on you, but you can take the time to seek assistance. Get all the information you need. If you have a disability that allows you to maintain an assistance animal, you can register to visually identify your dog as a Service Dog or ESA to your landlord.  

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