Companion Animals and Eviction

Pet owners at risk of eviction face numerous challenges to secure the welfare, security, and safety of their pets because there are few resources and services available that effectively integrate human and animal needs. If you are at risk for eviction and you have an animal, please use this information to plan in advance for the care and/or placement of your animal.

It's important to note that all tenants, including pet owners, have the legal right to remain in their home unless evicted by an NYC Marshal after going through the housing court process. Learn more about illegal lockouts.

Tenant Protection Resources

The New York City Tenant Resource Portal, designed by the Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) and the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit's (PEU) Tenant Support Unit (TSU), helps tenants across the city find the resources they need in one place. For information on how eviction protections might apply to you, please visit the portal or call 311 and ask for the City’s Tenant Helpline. Legal assistance is also available through the Tenant Helpline.

an illustrations of a six group of people do different activity in the build on the right, text on left read, call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline.

Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the City’s open-admission animal shelter, may also be able to connect you with a tenant advocate for pet-related housing issues.

In some situations, New Yorkers have the right to keep an animal, even if their lease prohibits pets. If you live in a private building with three or more units and have kept a pet "openly" and "notoriously" for three or more months before the landlord began a court case to enforce the no-pet clause, you may have the right to keep your pet, per § 27-2009.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York. If this applies to you, start gathering evidence that your pet has not been a secret. Adoption paperwork and letters from neighbors who have seen the pet are a great start.

If you need your animal because of a physical or psychiatric disability, the animal may be deemed a "reasonable accommodation" (see “If You Have a Disability” below for more information).

Make a Plan

Consider identifying an alternative caregiver and/or placement for your companion animal prior to eviction. This may be someone within your social network, a temporary caregiver you find on an online pet fostering platform, or a commercial service like a private boarding facility. No matter which option you choose, make sure your animal is current on their vaccinations and that you have copies of their veterinary records. If you choose to board your animal at a commercial facility, call in advance to check on pricing, availability, and types of services offered, which can vary by business.

Surrender Prevention and Placement Options for Your Animal

Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) is the City’s open-admission animal shelter. Before you consider surrendering your animal to the animal shelter, try finding a new home for your animal on your own. See ACC's Surrender Prevention Options for tips on finding a safe new home for your animal and instructions on how to speak with someone from ACC for further guidance on placement options for your animal. 

If You Have a Disability

If you have a disability and your animal is either a service animal or emotional support animal, you may be able to keep your animal with you in your next housing placement, including in homeless shelters.

service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Under the federal Americans with Disability Act, individuals with disabilities can bring their service animals into all areas of public facilities and private businesses where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees are allowed. There is no special registration or proof required for a service animal. A service animal is allowed to accompany their handler immediately and without a request for a reasonable accommodation.

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides companionship, relieves loneliness, and can sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, for people with disabilities. ESAs do not need to have any special training. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers, including shelters and other forms of temporary and supportive housing, must provide a reasonable accommodation to permit ESAs.

Housing and shelter providers should have written policies for handling requests for reasonable accommodations, including identifying the appropriate contact and process for requests. If you are applying for a reasonable accommodation, ensure that you request, possess, and complete all the appropriate forms. The process may include (but may not be limited to) providing the following documentation:

  • Letter from a licensed health professional stating that the individual has a disability and that the animal is required for the individual’s full use and enjoyment of the dwelling
  • Up-to-date rabies certificate
  • For dogs, NYC DOHMH dog license or proof of application

Start the request for a reasonable accommodation process as early as possible. Housing providers are legally required to respond to your request. If you have not heard back from the provider in two weeks, consider contacting the NYC Commission on Human Rights to file a complaint.

If you feel that you are being discriminated against or your right to keep an emotional support or service animal is being violated, file a complaint with the CCHR. You may file a complaint by calling 311 and saying, “File a complaint with NYC Commission on Human Rights,” or online on their Report Discrimination page.

For more information about emotional support animals in housing, please see the NYC Commission on Human Rights’ (CCHR) Emotional Support Animals in Housing FAQ.

Ensuring Safe Removal of Your Animal Once an Eviction Has Occurred

If you are evicted from the premises while you are not home, you may not have an opportunity to remove your companion animal from the property before your door is padlocked. In New York State, the New York City marshal (“marshal”) or New York City Sheriff’s Office (“Sheriff”) executing the eviction warrant must check the property for companion animals and coordinate the safe removal of animals with the evictee or with an animal shelter.

The marshal or the Sheriff will leave a notice on the door indicating to which shelter your animals have been taken if they have been removed and are no longer in the apartment. Marshals or the Sheriff may also transfer your property to the landlord, who may then leave your animal in the apartment or transfer them elsewhere.

If you have been locked out and your animal is still inside the apartment, attempt coordinating with the building staff or landlord to retrieve your animal first. Keep a record of your correspondence. If you still need assistance with retrieving your animal, call Animal Care Centers of NYC at 212-788-4000.

Under NYC law (§ 17-819), you may also pursue legal action against a landlord who denies you the possession of your companion animal after an eviction. You may have a cause of action in court against the landlord for any or all of the following relief:

  • Compensatory and punitive damages
  • Injunctive and declaratory relief
  • An order of seizure to retrieve your animal
  • Attorney’s fees and costs