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Posted by Roberta on July 24, 2000 at 19:12:13:

I live in a rent stabilized apartment in New York City. The building has about 300 apartments and is a mix of both condo and rental units. I recently received my rent renewal papers and along with the usual documents a form was enclosed with the heading "Pet Rider". It states, in part, as follows:

The Tenant is prohibited from harboring a dog without the express written consent of the Landlord. The Tenant represents and warrants that Tenant does not have a dog and does not intend to move one into the apartment knowing that the Landlord is relying upon the truth of this representation and warrant.

....strict adherence to this Rider by the Tenant is a material requirement of this Lease. The Tenant's failure to strictly comply with the obligation of this Rider shall be considered a serious, substantial, and material violation of this Lease and tenancy, and the owner will elect to terminate the lease and tenancy based upon a violation of this rider.

The Rider then provides that if the tenant currently has a dog and the dog dies, the Tenant is prohibited from replacing the dog and if the tenant does, it will be deemed a substantial breach of the Lease.

The Rider is written on plain heading or identification of any kind, although it is referred to in the landlord's covering letter. Also, there is a place for signature by the tenant only, nothing indicating that the landlord will sign the form also.

I have lived in the building for 25 years or more. During this entire time, dogs have always been permitted; in fact,it was not unusual for a tenant to have more then one animal. I'm certain that the condo board changed the owners' by-laws and are now trying to get the entire building to conform to their rules.

I do not want to sign the rider. My questions are do I have to sign in order to renew my lease, and, if it is possible that it is not a requirement of renewal, how do I proceed. Do I inform my landlord that I will not sign the form in which case he will probably not process the lease or do I sign under protest and then attempt to have the rider voided.

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