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Outrage of the Month: No Eviction for Pigeon-Owning Tenant – From the RSA Reporter

Posted on 01. Mar, 2016 by in all

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Yet another bizarre decision against a property owner has been issued by the Housing Court [in New York].

In RSP UAP-2 Property LLC v. Zarka, Housing Court Judge Sabrina Kraus considered whether a tenant who kept pigeons in his apartment had created a nuisance which justified his eviction.

Remarkably, Judge Kraus ruled for the tenant and refused to order his eviction. 

As stated in Judge Kraus’ decision, although the tenant had a cage in his apartment, he did not use the cage for the birds on a regular basis, allowing the pigeons to “roam free” in the apartment.  On a regular basis, the tenant rescued pigeons which were injured, sick or tired and unable to fly.

While there were numerous issues raised by the owner regarding other nuisances by the tenant, those were all rejected by Judge Kraus.  Ultimately, the case came down to whether the harboring of the pigeons in an apartment in a 365 unit cooperative building was a nuisance because doing so violated the law.

Section 12 of the Multiple Dwelling Law of New York provides that it: 

  • “shall be unlawful to keep any horse, cow, calf, swine, rabbit, sheep, goat, chicken or duck or any pigeon except Antwerp or homing pigeons, in or on any multiple dwelling or on the lot or premises thereof unless permitted by and in accordance with local law or regulation.” 

So, pigeons are prohibited in apartments unless they are Antwerp or homing pigeons, in which case they are legal and permitted.  Got that?

According to Judge Kraus, the owner’s proceeding against the tenant on this ground was unsuccessful because the owner “did not provide any evidence at trial as to whether the birds observed … were Antwerp pigeons, homing pigeons or some other type of pigeon.” 

So there you have it.  On the one hand, tenants are prohibited generally from keeping pigeons in their apartments.  On the other hand, they can keep the pigeons if they are Antwerp pigeons or homing pigeons and it is up to the owner to know the difference.  If the owner can’t prove that they are “regular” pigeons and not either Antwerp or homing pigeons, then the tenant can keep the birds in their apartment.

Another bird-brain decision and another outrage. 

Reprinted with permission of the RSA Reporter, New York, New York. The RSA (Rent Stabilization Association of N.Y.C., Inc.) is the largest trade association in New York City exclusively dedicated to protecting and serving the interests of the residential housing industry.