Apartment Renting With a Pet in New York: A Complete Guide

Rachel McCray

RENT

Cat in NYC

Many pet owners would not even consider the thought of moving to the Big Apple without their four-legged furry companion. However, pet owners must be ready to go through the apartment rental process with more restrictions than they might be used to.

It can easily be said that more apartments don’t allow pets than ones that do. So here are some things to consider about your beloved buddy before you begin apartment hunting.

NYC Pet Laws

As a New York City pet owner it is a much more tedious to rent rather than buy; however, buying real estate may not be in the best interest of most moving to the city for their first time.

According to New York City pet laws, there are multiple exceptions for tenants who need to keep a dog, because there really is nothing worse than having to separate from your pet because of building policies.

Laws and Restrictions

About 75% of all New York City buildings do not allow pets.

The NYC Pet Law, which applies to renters living in buildings with three or more apartments and to co-op apartment owners in all five boroughs, protects dog owners who have rented in a building that does not allow dogs.

According to the law, pet owners are allowed to keep their pet if they reside in the apartment for three months without the landlord citing them or seeking eviction.

This exception is, of course, dependent on the tenant not concealing the dog and being open about its presence.

Size and Breed Matter

Every building has different rules when it comes to owning a pet and many have policies on specific breeds they perceive to be 'aggressive'.

Pitbulls and Rottweilers are two of these shunned breeds. It’s no wonder that more and more New Yorkers are going for the smaller, more convenient breeds like French Bulldog or Yorkshire Terrier!

Not all small breeds are created equal because buildings sometimes will ban smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians because they bark too much or may have a tendency to bite.

Pet policies vary by building so make sure to inquire about these before getting too invested in an apartment.

Also, the number of dogs allowed is restricted to usually one, sometimes two (rules can be different for owners vs. renters).

Exotic Pets

I think most New Yorkers can agree that outlawing the ownership of all venomous spiders is not the worst thing in the world.

What most people don't know is that squirrels, pigs, and iguanas amongst many others are considered a type of exotic pet and illegal to keep as a pet in New York City.

A good start would be to check the official list to make sure that your not-so-common pet will be welcome in the first place!

If there is a security deposit for dogs or cats, tenants may have to pay that same rate for a mouse or turtle, but never more than the usual deposit.

Coming to NYC with an exotic pet is extra baggage (literally) and can definitely add to an already stressful process, so be prepared to walk away because some landlords cannot or will not accommodate your pets.

Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that there are other apartments that will.

A few population facts, according to New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC):

  • In 2017, Manhattan had the highest number of licensed dogs while Staten Island and the Bronx had the least.

  • Because only 20% of dogs are actively licensed (85,085), there are an estimated 425,000 canines across the five boroughs.

  • There is a direct correlation between the number of dogs in each neighborhood and median income, with higher median income areas having a higher number of dogs.

  • Long Island City has the highest number of dogs per capita (1 per every 26 persons)

  • In 2014-2017 Bella was the most popular female dog name while Max topped the list for male dogs in all boroughs except Manhattan where the top two were Charlie and Lucy.

Your Pet's Good Behavior is Key

Helping a doggie mind its manners begins with the owner. This means it is your responsibility go the extra mile and pay for those puppy training courses because, let's face it, at the end of the day it's harder to make it as a dog in New York City too. 

Most overwhelmingly, the noise and light pollution proves itself to be a bigger deal for these sensitive creatures. This is why potty training your pup will save a lot of time and hassle.

Just make sure that you will have time throughout your work day to allow your buddy to relieve him/herself and, if not, have the finances to hire a dog walker.

Being a dog-walker in NYC is actually is a full-time job for many students, artists, and work-from-homers!

For a one-up against your renting counterparts, supply the prospective landlord of the building with a photo that shows the dog’s calm behavior and that is has been socialized.

A reference letter from a past neighbor or landlord vouching for the dog's behavior with no nuisances, damages to the apartment, or issues whatsoever would be helpful.

A Little Extra Moolah

Be prepared to pay extra in security deposit and rent.

The risk for the landlord to make an exception for your pet is only worth it if there is additional insurance or higher rent to cover the potential damage that may ensue.

Things to Consider when Adopting

So you think you can just go adopt a pet in NYC without giving it extra (more than normal) thought? Now, let’s not be selfish!

Make sure you can truthfully answer yes to all of these questions:

  • Can your wallet handle it? Will you be able to comfortably pay for pet food, grooming, vet visits, obedience courses and extra fees related to renting?
  • Dogs need exercise! Will you have time and energy for at least 3 daily walks?
  • Can you be your pup’s BFF? Can you give your canine pal plenty of TLC every single day?
  • Does your apartment have the space for your new family member? If so, choose your breed accordingly. There's a reason 4 out of 5 most common NYC breeds are small dogs.

Thankfully, some luxury buildings will be more than happy to assist you with your day-to-day doggie chores if you find yourself busier than expected.

Resort-Like Amenities at Some Buildings

Some pet-friendly luxury buildings have gone to great lengths to attract qualified pet owners.

Several take it to the next level with amenities that include in-house dog-walking, ‘daycare’ services, doggie spas and grooming stations, just to name a few.

For example, if you want to spoil your furry buddy, the AVA DoBro in Downtown Brooklyn takes it two steps further by offering a pet program called WAG which hosts annual social events like doggie pool parties, yappy hours, and pet CPR classes.

The program, also partnered with nearby VCA animal hospitals to supply residents with discounted vet visits and supplies.

Pet Resources Galore

One awesome perk of owning a pet in NYC is the convenient access to resources. This city knows how much people love their pets so making a business out of it seemed pretty significant.

Here are just a few of the most popular pet services:

NYC Dog Walkers:  Trusted service that offers private walks, semi-private walks, puppy walks and visits.

Manhattan Pet Service: Offers dog walkers, pet sitting and pet training

Brooklyn Bark: Offers dog walks, pet sitting, sleepovers and baby watching

Wag!: Popular dog walking and dog sitting app that offers live GPS tracking to see the dog being walked and know whether it took care of its business (some consider this excessive). 

Best Neighborhoods for Pet Owners

When moving to a new area in NYC as a pet owner it is very important to consider factors which you may not have considered without a pet like nearby veterinary clinics, pet stores, walking areas and parks.

Here are the top 3 pet-friendly areas to live in with your pooch:

  1. The Upper East Side seems to have it all for pet-owners including pet-friendly parks (with Central Park being the money maker), pet-friendly buildings and more pet stores than you’d think imaginable.
  2. The Upper West Side offers sufficient ample space for your pet to explore not only the apartment but the area as well! In addition to Central Park, the UWS offers residents Riverside Park on the west side, which has plenty of fun dog runs for you AND your pet!
  3. The Financial District is beginning to offer more of more pet-friendly options in its luxury rentals and new condos. This area takes the bone when it comes to pet-friendly luxury buildings. Private dog park? In-house pet sitting and dog walking? Done and done!

Animal-loving-buyers have plenty of green space for their furry companions including Tribeca Dog Park or Battery Park City’s Kowsky Dog Plaza.

By far, the absolute best part of the dog walks is taking in the amazing views of the Hudson River and New Jersey skyline while walking the Hudson River Park and Rockefeller Park.

Check out surrounding dog parks and chat with other owners about where they found their pet-friendly apartments. Sometimes, word of mouth is the best way to find the most hidden gems. Who knows, you may even get lucky and snag a no-fee apartment!

To Own or Not to Own, That is the Question...

As you can probably surmise, a few recurring themes arise when it comes to owning a pet in New York City.

One thing that can easily be said is that caring for a dog in New York City is completely different and much more challenging, physically, mentally and financially than anywhere else so patience is key.

The most important part of moving to New York City with your pet is preparing for what’s to come.

Part of this preparation includes making sure you have copies of all vaccination records and vet paperwork, and references from neighbors who can attest to your dog’s good behavior.

It All Depends on One Essential Thing...

Before even considering any of these insider tips on owning a pet in NYC, make sure that you can secure somewhere in the first place! Here are some essential need-to-know items that will make the process more smooth (for more details check out our 'Ultimate Renting Guide' article)

  • Have your credit and income info handy: a good credit score and income to rent a pet-friendly apartment is crucial. The sooner you utilize our tips for improving your credit score, the better.
  • Prepare Income Documentation: proof of - identity, employment, income and income from previous years (Government - issued ID, employment verification, bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs)

Keep in mind - money, preparation, and patience are virtuous during the apartment-hunting process, especially as a pet-owner. 

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