Renter Defeats Pet Eviction

280 East Burnside Avenue. Image Credit: Google Maps

Landlord attempted to evict tenant who owned a pitbull as an emotional support animal. On December 8, 2017, a tenant moved into a rent-controlled apartment located at 280 East Burnside Avenue in the Bronx.  The tenant signed a two-year lease which contained a conspicuous provision prohibiting pets on the premises without landlord consent.  In December 2017, in an exchange of emails the tenant notified the building’s landlord that she owned a female pitbull named “Bella,” and that she was medically in need of an emotional support animal. The landlord took no action with respect to the pet until after the tenant notified the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development about the building’s lack of hot water and heat.

On June 29, 2018, the landlord commenced a proceeding in Bronx civil court to evict the tenant for breach of the lease’s no pets provision.  In response, the tenant argued that under the City’s Pet Law the landlord had waived the right to evict her when the landlord failed to commence the eviction proceeding within the three months after he had knowledge that a she “openly and notoriously” owned a household pet. The tenant presented to the court the emails between her and the landlord discussing her ownership of the pitbull as evidence that the landlord had knowledge that the tenant “openly and notoriously” harbored the pet.

Bronx Civil Court Judge Diane Lutwak agreed with the tenant, ruled that the landlord had waived the right to evict the tenant by failing to enforce the building’s no pet policy within the three months, and dismissed the eviction proceedings. The Council’s purpose in passing the Pet Law was to curtail potential landlord retaliation. If the landlord is aware of a pet and turns a blind eye, then the ability to enforce the provision is waived.


(CIT) 280 E. Burnside Assoc. v. James, 2018 N.Y.S.2d 4368 (Civ. Ct. Bronx Cty. 2018).

By: Kristina Jones (Kristina is a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019.)


One thought on “Renter Defeats Pet Eviction

  1. Regrettably the failure to plead a federal subsidy as part of the landlord’s prima facie case issue is left open. I believe the judge would have been within her rights to dismiss on that procedural basis alone before reviewing tha facts and reaching a decision based upon the NYC Pet Law.

    2 conclusions may be draw:

    1. Tenants in housing with federal money should be entitled by statute to all of the same protections as other tenants throughout NYC and not exempted to allow weird no pet holdovers simply because they reside in subsidized housing.

    2. The state of NY must pass a Right to a Companion Animal law eliminating all such issues as to the right to keep animals.

    I will note that the landlord here got off very easy because HUD would have likely slammed them to the wall for what the facts indicate may very well be discrimination and for failure to offer a reasonable accomodatin to a person with an emotional support animal pursuant to Fair Housing Act, Section 804(f)(1) and (2) and for other relief under Sate and City law.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.