Companion Animals and Eviction

Currently, tenants facing eviction have protections under State Law and under an order from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have recently been locked out of your apartment, the eviction may have occurred illegally. Contact the Tenant Helpline for legal support by calling 311 and saying, “Tenant Helpline.”

If you are at risk for eviction and you have an animal, please use this informational sheet to plan in advance for the care and/or placement of your animal.

Tenant Protection Resources

There are currently eviction moratoria from the State and CDC protecting some tenants from eviction through at least May 1, 2021. These different protections overlap and remain subject to interpretation by courts. For information about how these eviction protections might apply to you, please check the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants’ (MOPT) Tenant Resource Portal or contact the City’s Tenant Helpline by calling 311 and saying “Tenant Helpline.” Legal assistance is also available through the Tenant Helpline.

For updated resources and information regarding tenants’ rights, evictions moratorium, or Housing Court operations during COVID-19 visit MOPT’s COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Pet Owner Eviction Project

Pet owners at risk of eviction face numerous challenges to secure the welfare, security, and safety for their pets because there are few resources and services available that effectively integrate human and animal needs. In anticipation of a potential increase in the numbers of people facing eviction due to today's economic conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic, Animal Haven's Pet Owner Eviction Project, in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare and NYC Emergency Management's Animal Planning Task Force, is seeking to connect vulnerable tenants at risk of losing their pets while facing a potential eviction with free and low-cost resources including the following:

  • early intervention,
  • access to information of where to obtain services,
  • emergency planning assistance to pet owners at risk of eviction,
  • support to increase pet retention, and
  • as a last resort and for appropriate cases, connecting animal guardians who need to surrender their animals to free community resources.

COVID-19 Pet Hotline:

If you are facing eviction and have a companion animal, call the COVID-19 Pet Hotline to start the referral process – 877-204-8821.

Provider Referral Link:

If you are a nonprofit provider with a client with a companion animal who is facing eviction, please complete this simple referral form that can be accessed at the following link: https://airtable.com/shrJ5VhkTZRdo2QDG

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 document for tips on finding a safe new home for your animal or 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.

A 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 are 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 (Section 1. Section 17-802), 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