My Guide to NYC Rental Laws and Dog-Friendly Activities.

Rosemarie Tucker April 25, 2023

Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Fun in the City: My Guide to NYC Rental Laws and Dog-Friendly Activities🐶.


As a real estate agent in New York City (NYC), I often work with clients who rely on service dogs and emotional support animals (ESAs) for assistance and companionship. To better serve these individuals, it is essential to understand the specific rental laws that protect their rights. In this fun and informative blog post, I will share my insights on the current rental laws for service dogs and ESAs in NYC, provide a helpful guide to ensure we can effectively accommodate the needs of all tenants, and suggest some fantastic dog parks and activities throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Section 1: Unleashing the Difference Between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Before diving into rental laws, let's unleash the difference between service dogs and emotional support animals. Service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities, such as guiding the visually impaired or alerting individuals with hearing impairments. On the other hand, emotional support animals provide companionship and support to people with mental or emotional disabilities, such as depression or anxiety, without any specialized training.

Section 2: Pawsome 🐾.Federal and New York State Laws for Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

In NYC, both federal and state laws protect the rights of tenants with service dogs and emotional support animals.🗽

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers service dogs and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including housing. As real estate agents, we must ensure landlords make reasonable accommodations for tenants with service dogs, regardless of pet policies.
  • The Fair Housing Act (FHA) also applies to service dogs and emotional support animals, requiring landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. Under the FHA, landlords cannot charge pet fees or apply weight or breed restrictions to service dogs or ESAs.

In addition to these federal laws, New York State law also provides protection for tenants with service dogs and emotional support animals. The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) prohibits discrimination in housing, similar to the FHA, and covers both service dogs and ESAs.

Section 3: Navigating the Request for Reasonable Accommodations and Understanding Service Dog Requirements

To request a reasonable accommodation for a service dog or ESA, tenants should provide documentation from a healthcare or mental health professional confirming their need for the animal. This documentation should establish the tenant's disability and the necessity of the animal to help with the disability.

Section 3.1: Documentation is NOT Required

According to Leticia James, the New York Attorney General, documentation is not required for service animals. A public accommodation provider cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability and may not demand proof that the animal is certified. However, if it is not readily apparent that a dog is a service animal, they may ask, (1) if the animal is required because of a disability, and (2) what work the animal has been trained to perform. The business must allow the animal regardless of any stated "no pets" policy: a service animal is not a pet.

Although some states have programs to certify service animals, certification is not required for a public accommodation. It is important to note that some businesses, many of them online, sell fake service dog certifications: certificates, licenses, tags, or harnesses that identify service dogs in exchange for a fee. Individuals should be careful when dealing with businesses selling such documentation and accessories, especially those that do not provide training or evaluation or that charge high fees. For more information on this topic, you can visit the New York State Attorney General's guide on service animals  (once you click on the link scroll down to service animals rights brochure)

Section 4: Exploring Dog-Friendly Activities in NYC

In addition to understanding rental laws and fostering a supportive community, it's important to be aware of dog-friendly activities and spaces in NYC. This will not only help clients with service dogs and emotional support animals feel welcome but also provide an opportunity for their furry companions to socialize and exercise. Here are some great dog parks and activities across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx:


  1. Central Park: With 23 dog-friendly areas, including off-leash areas during designated hours, Central Park is an ideal spot for service dogs and ESAs to enjoy the outdoors.
  2. Hudson River Park: The Leroy Street Dog Run and the Pier 84 Dog Run offer enclosed spaces for dogs to play and exercise while enjoying beautiful waterfront views.


  1. Prospect Park: Brooklyn's largest park has several dog-friendly areas, and dogs are allowed off-leash before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. in the Long Meadow, Nethermead, and Peninsula.
  2. McCarren Park: This popular park features a dog run where service dogs and ESAs can socialize with other dogs in a safe, fenced-in area.


  1. Astoria Park: The Astoria Park Dog Run offers separate areas for large and small dogs, providing a secure environment for service dogs and ESAs to exercise and play.
  2. Flushing Meadows Corona Park: With multiple dog-friendly areas, this expansive park provides a variety of spaces for dogs to explore and enjoy.

The Bronx:

  1. Pelham Bay Park: This large park offers a dedicated dog run, where service dogs and ESAs can play and socialize in a fenced-in area.
  2. Van Cortlandt Park: Known for its scenic trails, Van Cortlandt Park provides several dog-friendly areas where service dogs and emotional support animals can enjoy a peaceful walk with their owners.


Understanding the rental laws in NYC for service dogs and emotional support animals is crucial for real estate agents like myself. By staying informed and ensuring compliance with federal and state laws, we can better serve our clients and create a more inclusive and accommodating rental environment for all tenants. Additionally, by exploring and sharing dog-friendly activities and spaces throughout NYC, we can help tenants with service dogs and emotional support animals feel welcome and enjoy the city with their furry companions 🐶. 

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