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Daytime Dog Visitor Is Not an Illegal Tenant for Eviction Purposes

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 23, 2015 9:57 AM

Daytime dog visits do not amount to pet harboring, says a Bronx judge. A New York civil court found that tenants did not violate a settlement agreement or their lease by allowing their sister's dog to visit periodically during the day.

Cookie, a Pomeranian recently registered as a service dog, has been the subject of a protracted landlord-tenant dispute. But the landlord lost his eviction case after his witnesses admitted at an evidentiary hearing that they never heard the dog bark at night.

The Evidence Supports the Pomeranian

Although the landlord's property manager initially testified that she and other tenants heard the dog "multiple times," she admitted on cross-examination that she had never seen the dog and had never stayed at the building at night. As such, she could not know whether the dog did. Her colleague, an assistant property manager, also could not say whether the dog stayed after business hours.

Meanwhile, the dog's owner and sister of the tenants testified that she dropped Cookie off sometimes when she worked in New York during the day. She lives in New Jersey and did not want to leave Cookie alone for long hours.

Recently, Cookie was registered as a service dog to assist one of the tenant's daughters recovering from spinal surgery. But, the owner insisted, Cookie never stayed in the Bronx apartment at night.

Procedurally Speaking

Ultimately, the judge ruled that the tenants will be allowed to remain in their apartment. They may, however, have gotten a lucky break.

Their landlord was not very organized. As the court noted, the property owner here failed to submit the lease agreement he claimed the tenants violated. Declining to assume that a lease existed, the court decided the case based on the evidence taken at the two-day hearing.

Cookie's visits will continue. And the landlord must accept that sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

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