catlease.jpgAn appellate court ruled this week that a 71-year-old woman could remain in the West Village apartment she shares with her two cats, despite a no-pets clause in her lease. Siiri Marvits has lived in the same apartment for 43 years and has had her two cats Athena and Apollo for more than ten years. The Daily News reports that according to the New York City Law Journal, a landlord must begin eviction proceedings within the first three months of a tenant "openly" having an animal. Since Marvits has had the cats for more than ten years now, she was immune from such legal action. A lawyer for her landlord argued, however, that Marvits never openly had her cats because she never took them outside and they hid out of sight whenever someone was in the apartment.

Judges in Marvits's case ruled that even if the cats were hiding when a super or maintenance worker went into her apartment, that wouldn't mask their open existence because visitors would have observed evidence of their existence, like a litter box or food bowls.

The new owners of Peter Cooper Village/ StuyTown went so far as to bribe maintenance workers with access to tenant's apartments to rat out those who they thought had pets. A successful eviction would lead to a $150 gift certificate. Tenants do have certain rights to pets and can hire a lawyer specializing in the burgeoning area of pet law. Some cases might be beyond rescue, however, like the woman who owned two dogs and was evicted after she complained of roaches in her Staten Island apartment. We've found pets generally repel pests, but tenant Patricia Leonardo hadn't taken her two dogs outside for years, and they were just relieving themselves on laid out newspapers. And then in mid-2006, Melanie Neer was faced with eviction for keeping about 100 cats in her studio apartment in Elmhurst, Queens. Animal Care and Control continued to remove them until there were only thirty, but her landlord wanted the number down to two or she'd lose her rent-controlled apartment.

Some pet shelters require a letter from a landlord confirming that an allowance for pets is understood and will look over one's lease before adoptions can be finalized. We recommend looking over whatever rental agreement one has to determine one's compliance status and keeping the number of a pet lawyer handy, just in case.