Chapter 14: Assistance Animals and Pet Ownership

A. Overview 

Subject to the policy and requirements described in this chapter, each NYCHA household may have one NYCHA registered cat or dog in their apartment. A NYCHA household also may seek a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal. 

Residents must meet all applicable New York City pet registration requirements, ( New York City Health Code §161.04 ), in addition to the NYCHA requirements. New York City requires dogs to be registered and licensed. Tenants can find additional information about New York City’s licensing requirements on the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) website .  

Although New York City law does not require a person to register or obtain a license for their domesticated cat, residents must register their cats with NYCHA. 

B. Key Acronyms 

    • DOHMH: Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 
    • FHEO: HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity 
    • HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 
    • NYCHA: New York City Housing Authority 

C. Assistance Animals 

There are two types of assistance animals:  

    • Service animals (trained dogs only), and 
    • Other (trained or untrained) animals that do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities, commonly referred to as “support animals.” 

The rules for assistance animals include the following: 

    • A resident may keep an assistance animal in addition to a registered pet (e.g., a “registered pet” can be one cat or one dog). 
    • A resident and/or authorized household member may have an assistance animal. 
    • An assistance animal must be registered with NYCHA. See NYCHA Form 040.505, Dog, Cat, and Assistance Animal Registration Form. 
    • An assistance animal is exempt from dog weight or breed restrictions. 

Please note the following for assistance animals:  

    • Assistance animals must be registered with NYCHA. A resident who fails to register an assistance animal will be subject to termination of tenancy proceedings. See NYCHA Form 040.505; Dog, and Cat, Assistance Animal Registration Form. 

i. Service Animals  

The Americans with Disabilities Act, the United States Department of Justice, and HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) Notice – 2020-01 , define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks (i.e., trained to take a specific action when needed) for a person with a disability. Other animals, whether trained or untrained, are not service animals under the law. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.  

If it is readily apparent that the dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with disability, no medical documentation is required for the dog to be registered as a service animal. It is considered “readily apparent” when, for example, the dog is observed:  

      • Guiding a blind individual, or 
      • Pulling a wheelchair, or 
      • Alerting individuals to sounds.  

If the disability of the individual and no specific work or task to be performed by the dog is identified, the dog is not considered a service animal. However, the dog may be a support animal. 

ii. Other Types of Assistance Animals/Support Animals

Unlike a service animal, other types of assistance animals (i.e., support animals) do not have to be individually trained or certified. Per HUD’s FHEO Notice – 2020-01 , a support animal is an animal that does work, performs tasks, provides assistance, and/or provides therapeutic emotional support for an individual with disabilities. NYCHA may grant a request for a support animal without additional documentation if the resident has an observable disability or NYCHA has information giving it reason to believe the resident has a disability. If the resident has a non-observable disability, NYCHA may request that the resident provide information from a health care professional confirming the disability. Online certificates issued by a vendor attesting to a resident’s disability and need for an assistance animal alone are NOT acceptable. Examples of observable disabilities include impairments with observable symptoms or effects such as intellectual impairments (including some types of autism), neurological impairments (e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or brain injury), mental illness, or other diseases or conditions that affect major life activities or bodily functions. An emotional disability with no observable symptoms is an example of a non-observable disability.  

iii. Reasonable Accommodations for Assistance Animals

Residents can make a request for reasonable accommodation to keep an assistance animal in their apartment.  

Residents who are seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal are required to complete NYCHA Form 040.505; Dog, Cat, and Assistance Animal Registration Form. In addition, a resident registering an assistance animal may also be required to complete NYCHA Form 040.426, Medical Verification Form if the resident’s disability is not readily apparent or readily observable.  

iv. Assistance Animal Registration 

All assistance animals must be registered with NYCHA. A resident who fails to register an assistance animal is subject to termination of tenancy proceedings. Refer to Chapter 11, Lease Terminations , for more information.  

D. Pet Ownership 

i. Types of Allowable Pets 

Each household is permitted to have either one cat or one dog per apartment, and small caged animals, as follows: 



Cat (domestic feline)

The cat must be vaccinated and neutered or spayed. The cat must be registered with NYCHA.


The following requirements apply to all dogs (even dogs that are assistance animals), regardless of registration date with NYCHA:

A dog must be licensed with DOHMH and must wear two tags around the neck: a NYC license tag and stainless steel NYCHA dog tag.

A dog must be vaccinated and neutered or spayed.

A dog must be registered with NYCHA.

Small domestic pets kept in a cage or an aquarium

Residents may keep a reasonable number of small domestic pets such as hamsters, small birds, and fish, provided the pet is kept in a cage or an aquarium. These pets cannot create a nuisance or an unsafe or unsanitary condition. Registration is not required for these types of pets.

Any dog registered with NYCHA on or after February 1, 2010, must meet the following requirements: 

      • Weight: a dog cannot exceed a maximum weight of 25 pounds in adulthood. 
      • Breed Restriction: the following dog breeds are prohibited: Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Doberman Pincher. 

Residents who registered a pet before February 1, 2010, may be permitted to keep the pet if the pet met the NYCHA rules in place at the time of registration. 

However, if a dog or cat registered before February 1, 2010, has since been removed from the apartment, any replacement pet must meet the requirements under NYCHA’s current pet policy. 

The following rules apply to dogs or cats that were registered with NYCHA before February 1, 2010: 

      • Permissible number of pets: A resident may own either one dog or one cat per apartment. 
      • Dog Weight Restriction: The weight of a dog based on the projected full-grown adult weight, may not exceed 40 pounds. 

ii. Prohibited Animals 

Prohibited animals include, but are not limited to: 

      • Unconventional pets or endangered animals such as barnyard animals (farm animals including, but not limited to, cattle, horses, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigs, goats, and sheep), reptiles, arachnids (spiders), monkeys, and other animals, as specified by New York State and New York City local laws and health code
      • Animals deemed dangerous, vicious, or threatening also are prohibited. Registered pets or assistance animals that are or become dangerous, vicious, or threatening are not permitted and must be removed from the apartment. 

E. Pet Registration 

i. Requirement  

All residents must register their dog, cat, or assistance animal with NYCHA as follows: 

      • During the lease-up process (new residents). 
      • As soon as the resident acquires a dog, cat, or assistance animal. 

If a resident is adding a new pet or assistance animal to replace a pet or assistance animal that is no longer in the household (e.g., the animal has passed away), the resident must complete and submit NYCHA Form 040.299B, Animal Removal Agreement. 

ii. Registration Process  

Only the resident of record (i.e., person(s) who signed the lease) can register a dog, cat, or assistance/service animal. Residents can apply to register a pet and/or an assistance animal online through the NYCHA Self-Service Portal , the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771, or by going to their local property management office and requesting a paper copy of NYCHA Form 040.505, Dog, Cat, and Assistance Animal Registration Form to complete. The registration process is as follows:  

      • The resident of record must complete NYCHA Form 040.505, Dog, and Cat, Assistance Animal and Service Animal Registration Form, and return it to the local Property Management Office.  
      • NYCHA reviews and notifies the resident of the decision in writing. 

iii. Pet-Free Zones 

NYCHA property managers, in consultation with Resident Association leadership, may designate pet-free zones. A pet-free zone is an area in a development where residents are not permitted to bring their pets. Assistance animals may enter pet-free zones, as necessary. 

F. Pet Owner Responsibilities 

    • Residents must not leave pets/animals unattended for more than 24 hours. This includes small pets kept in a cage or aquarium (e.g., hamster or fish).
    • Residents are responsible for all damages caused by their pets and assistance animals. Any fees resulting from such damage are charged to the resident.
    • Dogs, cats, and assistance animals must be spayed or neutered. Proof must be submitted with NYCHA Form 040.505, Dog, Cat, and Assistance Animal Registration Form.
    • Residents must ensure that their cats, dogs, and assistance animals are vaccinated for rabies. Vaccinations must be current and up to date per New York City Health Code §161.06.
    • Residents must follow New York City’s requirements to register and license dogs in accordance with the Health Code §161.04.
    • Residents are not allowed to perform any physical alterations of their apartment or patio to create an enclosure for an animal.
    • Residents must secure their pet when NYCHA staff visit the apartment for any reason. This includes, but is not limited to, apartment inspections and maintenance appointments. As part of their communication with residents, NYCHA staff must ask them if there is a pet before entering the apartment. The pet must be kept secured for the duration of the visit. NYCHA staff will not enter an apartment if the pet is not secured. Securing a pet means confining or restraining the pet so that it cannot roam freely and interfere with or annoy visiting staff. Ways to secure a pet include:
      • Keeping the pet in a separate room or in an animal cage away from NYCHA staff;
      • Having a household member physically hold the pet; or
      • Restraining the pet on a leash not more than six feet in length.
    • Residents must control the noise of pets and assistance animals so that it does not become a nuisance to other residents by interrupting their peaceful enjoyment of their apartment or the development premises. This includes, but is not limited to, loud or continuous barking, howling, whining, or other similar activities.
    • Residents must take adequate steps to eliminate any odors coming from their pets and/or assistance animals within their apartment and maintain the cleanliness of their apartment at all times.
    • Cats must use litter boxes located inside the resident’s apartment. The litter boxes must be cleaned regularly. Residents are not allowed to let waste accumulate. Waste is to be placed in a plastic bag, closed, and disposed of properly (e.g., throwing the bag in the garbage). Residents must not dispose of animal waste, including kitty litter, in the toilet or household drains.
    • Pets must be maintained inside the resident’s apartment. When outside of the apartment, pets must be kept on a leash or in a carrier and under the control of the resident or other responsible individual at all times. In accordance with New York City’s Leash Law (Health Code §161.05), dogs must be restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet in length when the animal is in a public place (except in designated off leash areas).
    • Residents must keep dogs, cats, and other animals out of “pet-free zones.” Note that a registered assistance animal may enter a “pet-free zone,” as necessary, provided the animal is on a leash of not more than six feet in length. Refer to Section (e)(iii) of this Chapter, Pet-Free Zones, for more information.

G. Pet Owner Suitability 

NYCHA may refuse to admit a pet if a resident has a pending termination of tenancy action for poor housekeeping and/or has demonstrated habits and practices that reasonably determine that the resident is unable to keep a pet in compliance with pet rules and pet owner responsibilities. 

H. Violation of Rules/Non-Compliance  

A resident is subject to a termination of tenancy proceedings for any of the following: 

    • Failure to register a dog, cat, or assistance animal; 
    • Failure to remove a pet/animal from the apartment within seven calendar days after NYCHA notifies the resident that removal is required; 
    • Preventing an apartment inspection or preventing a maintenance worker from entering an apartment because an unsecured pet/animal was present in the apartment; 
    • Possession of a dangerous, vicious, threatening, or prohibited animal; 
    • Possession of a pet or assistance animal that caused injury or damage to one or more persons, another animal, or property; or 
    • Breach of the pet policy or Pet Owner Responsibilities (refer to Section (f) of this Chapter, Pet Owner Responsibilities , for more information). 

I. Removal of Dangerous, Vicious, Threatening, or Prohibited Animals  

Prohibited or dangerous animals, even if previously registered with NYCHA, must be removed from the apartment.  

    • Dangerous animals, including those that are vicious, threatening, or have bitten a person or another animal. NYCHA determines if an animal is dangerous based on the circumstances. 
    • Prohibited animals. Refer to Section (d)(ii) of this Chapter, Prohibited Animals, for more information. 

Effective: 1/1/24
Last Revision: 12/15/23