Flushing co-op requires residents to pay pet registration fee

By Madina Toure

Residents of a Flushing co-op have expressed concerns about a new registration fee for tenants who have pets.

Tenants at the Harwyn Owners Corporation co-operative building on 143-40 41st Ave. in Flushing received a dog, cat and service animal registration form from the management requiring a $100 pet registration fee to register or they would face a $300 penalty.

Harwyn and the management company, 4 Seasons International Management Inc. included the New York City Housing Authority’s pet rules and tenant certification on the form. The building is composed of co-op shareholders and rent-stabilized tenants.

Flushing District Leader Martha Flores Vazquez, a rent-stabilized tenant in the building, has had a dog for her past 34 years living in the building. A citywide law says tenants who have pets for 90 days or more openly can keep them, she said. The clause is waived if a tenant moves into the building with a pet.

Vazquez said the tenants reached out to state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which said the building cannot impose the fee and instructed them to file a complaint.

Harwyn’s new board of directors is not knowledgeable about laws concerning pets in buildings, she said.

“Once they saw that no one responded and we know the law, they left it alone,” Vazquez said.

The building also posted an announcement saying it was planning to install a new doorbell, which would cost every unit $30 and start to install each one only after receiving 90 percent of the units’ approval by Jan. 15.

Stavisky sent a letter dated Jan. 6 to the state Department of Homes and Community Renewal stating that rent-stabilized tenants should not be subjected to the pet registration fee, which she said is not mentioned in their lease, or the doorbell fee, which would require the agency to approve a major capital improvement and allow the board to increase the rents.

Stavisky has worked on various issues within the building over the last 10 years, including a prostitution ring that was run out of the apartment complex and the lack of space between the building and another building under construction next door.

“I’m really surprised that the landlord would try to take advantage of the rent-stabilized tenants because they know what the rules are,” Stavisky said.

All tenants, including senior citizens, are now required to register their existing pets on an annual basis, according to the dog, cat and service animal registration form obtained by TimesLedger.

They must pay a one-time, nonrefundable pet registration fee of $100 — $50 to Harwyn and the remaining $50 to 4 Seasons. Residents were expected to submit the form and the fee by Jan. 20 or face the penalty.

They were also expected to have the pet examined by a veterinarian and submit a dog and cat veterinarian certification form within 90 days of receipt of the veterinarian certification form. If the pet is a service animal, the resident would have to complete a service animal verification form.

Harwyn’s board of directors said despite the corporation’s bylaws that the building is a pet-free zone for all tenants and shareholders, there was an increased number of new pets — some large and vicious — appearing in the building.

The board said it was concerned about the animals biting residents, especially the elderly and children, saying defecation was found inside the building’s only elevator, the stairways and the hallways.

“As a solution to multiple complaints from distressed tenants/shareholders, as well as a proper legal and sanitation steps to control the existent pet population, a notion was voted on and passed by the management and the board of directors to have all tenants/shareholders register their pets,” board members said in a joint statement.

“The building understands certain individuals’ desires of owning pets; however, the building must also provide a livable and quiet enjoyment environment for all tenants/shareholders that reside in the building’s cooperative units,” it added.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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