L.M. from Bronx, New York writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The building I live in has a no dog policy but many people have dogs on the premises. In my building alone there are 6 dogs; one actually resides across the hall from me. I do not own my apartment; I rent, but the neighbors across from me do own their apartment and also have a dog. I have been to court regarding this and the end result is me having to move after 14 years at this location. How is it fair that they target me for having a dog and not the condo owners as well? The policy applies to everyone renters or owners correct? Please help, I am at my wit’s end and am currently going to Court to get an Order to Show Cause to Stay Eviction but I am now thinking about filing a discrimination claim. Am I in the right???
Mister Condo replies:
L.M., I am not an attorney so please take this advice as friendly and not legal. For legal advice, I advise you to speak with an attorney in your area who is familiar with your local laws. It sounds like you may have already done so. The condo building you live in is governed by a group of volunteer unit owners who have been selected by the unit owners of the association. There job is to maintain, protect, and enhance the association’s common property which includes the building you live in. It is not uncommon for the Board to adopt rules that apply only to renters. They do this to protect the property from extra “wear and tear” that is generally associated with renters. Usually, there are “move in/move out” fees, rental fees for extra paperwork needed to document the renters, and, unfortunately for you and your dog, pet restrictions. Your rental agreement with your landlord likely describes the pet restrictions but, if it doesn’t, you may have recourse with your landlord. Again, that is an item for you and your attorney to discuss.
In my experience, discrimination against a renter with pets is challenging to prove. However, since there are other pets in the building it is possible that you have been singled out. This would be especially true of you could demonstrate that other renters are allowed to have pets. I am no expert on NY discrimination laws but I am betting that this is what your attorney will focus on if you decide to move forward with a discrimination lawsuit.
Whatever the outcome, I am sorry for your plight. It seems a shame for the community to lose a 14-year resident, regardless of the circumstance. I wish you and your pet all the best, even if it involves you finding a pet-friendly home for both of you.