Designation of Therapy Animals to Evade No Pet Policies

The trend of fraudulently labeling pets as “therapy” or “emotional” animals to avoid a building’s no pet policy is on the rise. Landlords are increasingly reluctant to challenge their tenants as any denial could result in a discrimination suit resulting in fines up to $250,000. Unlike trained service animals such as a seeing-eye-dog, emotional support animals do not need formal training. In fact, there are websites online that will generate a doctor’s note stating the tenant’s need for a service dog for under $200. Despite the therapy exemption, the concern is that therapy animals may become a nuisance to landlords and neighbors.
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Avoiding Online Rental Scams

In recent years, more people are seeking rental units through the Internet. However, individuals often find themselves falling victim to an online scam. Some of the Internet sites commonly associated with rental scams are Craigslist, Trulia, and Zillow. While these websites do their best to eliminate scammers from using their sites, it is important to look for possible signs of a rental scam as well as perform due diligence in the event that a scammer has slipped through the cracks.

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Commercial Landlords and the Non-Residential Tenant Harassment Law

In September 2016, New York City enacted the “Non-Residential Tenant Harassment” law that increases protections for New York City commercial tenants. Under the law, a commercial landlord, or someone acting on his or her behalf, cannot harass a tenant into making them vacate the commercial property or surrender or waive their rights under an effective lease agreement. This includes the use of force, implied force, interruption of access to the property or services within the property, court proceedings, and the changing of locks in the property.

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Breaking a Lease Agreement

A lease agreement is a contract that creates rights and obligations for a landlord and a tenant related to rental property. Some leases are term leases, and others are month to month. When a tenant wants to terminate (break) a lease early, it’s important that they consult with a landlord-tenant attorney who can assist in protecting their rights under the law.

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Suffolk County Eviction Process

Eviction is the legal process by which a landlord can expel a resident or tenant from a property. Some of the most common reasons a landlord will evict a tenant are the failure to pay rent on time, harboring other people or pets at the residence that are not authorized by the lease agreement, or the tenant’s participation in illegal or criminal activity within the rental premises. Regardless of the reason for eviction, a landlord must follow a formal eviction process that varies based on the county in which the property is located.

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Deck Collapse Injures Two During Party

Two people were injured when a deck collapsed during a house party in East Setauket. CBS News reported that 400 people — mostly students at Stony Brook University — attended a party at the house to celebrate “move-in day.” It was estimated that as many as 50 people were on the 10-foot-high deck when it collapsed on August 26, 2016, at 11 p.m.

Of the two who were injured, one had a broken leg and the other suffered abrasions. Police were called to the scene after a neighbor complained about the noise and the number of cars parked in front of the house.

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Both Landlords and Tenants Have Rights in New York

Illegal Apartments

Landlords and tenants have rights in New York. In Suffolk County, many jurisdictions require that a landlord obtain a rental permit prior to renting an apartment or home.  In cases where a landlord has failed to obtain a rental permit when required, the facts of a case and the jurisdiction determine the whether the landlord may prosecute a claim or recover monetary damages.
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Are You Legally Entitled to Smoke in Your Apartment?

Recently, Suffolk County lawmakers passed a bill that will ban smoking in apartment complexes.  The prohibition applies to apartment complexes with ten or more units- including senior facilities and condominiums.  Smoking will be prohibited in all common areas of the building as well as outside common areas including courtyards and playgrounds.  Violators are subject to a $250 fine, and a jail sentence could be imposed for those with multiple violations.

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Tenant’s Rights Under the Warranty of Habitability

Every tenant has the right to live in a safe, sanitary and habitable dwelling.  It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide suitable conditions for habitation. The warranty of habitability is a law that makes the landlord or owner responsible for keeping your apartment and the building safe and livable at all times. If a landlord does not take care of the property, or make repairs when necessary, these failures may constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.

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Are Landlords Required to Allow Service Animals?

Under federal law, landlords are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” based on an individual’s disability.  Disabilities can be mental, emotional, or physical in nature.  Landlords must comply with the Fair Housing Act, and regardless of a pet policy, a landlord may be required to permit a tenant to keep a service animal to accommodate an individual’s disability.

Service animals may assist with mental, emotional, or physical needs.  Additionally, a service animal could include any type of animal that qualifies.  Traditionally people consider service animals to be dogs, but they can also include cats, birds, rabbits, and any other animal that may assist with the person’s disability.  These animals are not considered pets, but working animals.

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