Information provided by Neil B. Garfinkel, REBNY Broker Counsel, Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP
Many residential buildings in NYC have pet restrictions and policies such as “no pets,” “no dogs,” “cats only,” etc. While pets are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), a housing provider must accept Assistance Animals (which includes both Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals) as a reasonable accommodation if requested by a resident with a diagnosable disability. Since Assistance Animals are recognized under the FHA and are not considered pets, a building with a “no pet” policy must allow a resident or applicant with a diagnosable disability who makes a reasonable accommodation request for an Assistance Animal to have the animal in their apartment. The law applies equally to condominiums, cooperatives and rental buildings.