For some New Yorkers, a pet goes beyond just being another member of the family, and one new real estate agency is looking to keep certain eligible residents together with their pets — no matter the policies.
Pet Friendly Realty NYC is a residential real estate agency that specializes in working with buyers and renters — who rely on their pets to calm particular emotional disabilities — find a place to call home with their animals.
According to founder Hal Eisenstein, the company is made up of experts in federal housing laws that allow eligible individuals to have their pets live with them regardless of building restriction rules or even no-pet policies.
The law does not apply to everyone, however, Eisenstein added that many families and individuals are not aware that they qualify to live with their pet under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) — which prevents discrimination in housing.
“I realized that nobody really knows. There are people that have a therapeutic need for an animal,” Eisenstein said. “It’s not that I’ve invented something. This is what the law is, it has been.”
The real estate agency was created to help renters and buyers — who suffer emotional distress as a result of not having their pet with them — have access to homes they initially believed they could not live in.
Before finding a home, the prospective renters or buyers must go through a qualifying process that resembles that of getting pre-qualified for a mortgage, Eisenstein explained.
The renter or buyer must first call the agency so the experts can get an understanding if the particular case falls under the FHA and questions can be asked about the process. Then the agency will arrange a meeting with a licensed psychotherapist who will determine fully if a certain family member or individual would qualify under FHA regarding pet-restrictive policies.
If the therapist determines that the person qualifies, the agency will then begin to help them find an apartment, even in buildings that may have “pet-restrictive policies.”
When it comes to submitting any documentation, the therapist will provide necessary certification that will allow the family or individual to live with the pet.
“The pet no longer becomes just a pet, it becomes a durable medical equipment,” Eisenstein said. “The landlord must allow the pet to live in the apartment even if there are restrictions or a no pet policy.”
Although the renter or buyer can select an apartment in virtually any building, Eisenstein added that there is an exception when it comes to cooperative buildings. This is because, although under federal law discrimination based on medical or psychological needs is prohibited, a co-op board can deny a buyer for a number of reasons. It would also be “virtually” impossible to provide the reason behind being denied has anything to do with the pet.
However, even with this exception, Eisenstein wants prospective buyers and renters — who could be eligible for the agency’s services — to not be afraid because under the FHA they have “an absolute right to have an accommodation.”
Eisenstein added that the goal is to help these individuals be informed, find a way to make finding their next home easy and feel that there is someone there to take them through the process.
“We’re not encouraging anyone to misrepresent themselves. If they have a bonafide diagnosis, it’s no different than walking into CVS for a prescription,” he said. “These people now no longer have to restrict themselves… We help keep families and their pets together.”
For more information or to see if you or a family member qualify, visit pfrnyc.com.