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As a Landlord, Can You Forbid Pets on the Premises?

Jul 28 2017

Written by Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

Say you are a landlord who has included a provision in the lease for your property that does not permit tenants to keep domesticated pets on the premises. Even with this provision, is there any way New Jersey tenants may be permitted to keep domesticated animals, such as dogs, in their apartment?

The answer depends on the tenant, and the type of animal they would like to keep in their apartment. N.J.S.A. 2A:42-103 defines a domesticated animal under Article 8, Domesticated Animals in Housing Projects, as a dog, cat, bird, fish or other animal that does not constitute a health or safety hazard. Under this article, there are exceptions to a landlord’s outright refusal to permit domesticated pets, in relation to senior citizens and disabled persons.

Senior citizens who resides in a senior citizen housing project can have a domesticated animal in their home, as long as said person provides notice to the landlord, the tenant properly cares for the pet, uses a leash for the pet, properly disposes of animal waste, and complies with federal, state, and local health codes. N.J.S.A. §§ 2A:42-104, 107. If a senior citizen complies with all these New Jersey state rules, a landlord cannot arbitrarily refuse to renew a lease without violating state law. Id. Additionally, New Jersey law permits persons with disabilities to own and care for domestic animals in accordance with the Law Against Discrimination, which includes guide and service dogs. N.J.S.A. 2A:42-109. As a landlord, you may ask your tenant for documentation of his or her need and make the request in writing to avoid any appearance of individual discrimination. Ultimately, the tenant—whether a senior citizen or disabled individual—is responsible for controlling and caring for the animal.

Clearly, New Jersey law gives tenants that meet the description in Article 8 great discretion on this issue. Thus, as a landlord, the best approach in dealing with prospective tenants is to treat all new tenants as potential owners of service animals. For further legal advice on landlord-tenant issues, contact your local Stafford Township attorney, today.

Manahawkin and Stafford Township Attorney | Landlord Tenant | Pet Policies