November 7th, 2018
Pets and landlords don’t traditionally mix too well. Many renters want furry friends, while majority of landlords can’t stand the possibility of that puppy tearing apart their property.
What are landlords allowed to do when it comes to enforcing a ‘no pets’ policy. Is it even legal in the first place?
In this post, we’ll look at some of the legalities surrounding every tenant’s right to a pet and what landlords can do to avoid renting to pet owners if they want to keep their property out of harm’s way.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are not allowed to prevent a tenant from bringing a pet into their home.
Pay close attention to that term “tenant”. The only person allowed to bring in a pet, under certain circumstances, must be your current tenant in order to be protected under the bylaw.
Condominium boards are allowed to have their own rules concerning pets. They have the right to declare a zero-tolerance no pets policy.
However, if a tenant currently under your roof decides to bring two puppies and four cats into their apartment tomorrow, there is little you can do about it, unfortunately. There are, however, some ways to refuse pets on your property.
Landlords have to protect the health and safety of other tenants on their rental properties. If anyone in the building has severe allergies to any pet or their dander, the landlord has the right to evict a tenant for endangering others in the building.
Secondly, you can refuse to rent out your unit to someone that says they already have a pet.
Many pet owners have trouble finding rentals for this reason – they have no protection under the Act unless they are already tenants. Some prospective tenants will lie and say they don’t have pets, then secretly bring them in, simply because of the stigma attached to pet ownership and the belief that they inherently damage property (which they definitely might).
Evictions for pet owners can only happen if the animal is behaving in a way that substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of their neighbours or landlord in their homes and shared spaces. Landlords can also evict a tenant if the animal is considered “inherently dangerous” to others or if again, they are causing allergic reactions.
Landlords must first give the tenant the opportunity to correct the animal’s behaviour before taking the case to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
In short, it’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate against tenants who bring in pets. Landlords have the right to refuse a rental opportunity to someone who declares they have a pet, and advertise the unit as a pet-free space from the beginning.
Landlords are not allowed to charge a pet deposit, though they can take them to small claims court if the tenant leaves their unit damaged.
A pre-emptive strategy can help landlords mitigate against unwanted pets in their rental units, especially as pets have the capacity to ruin floors, carpets, walls and wood.
When you’re screening tenants, ask any previous landlords if a pet was present. If you have personal references, ask their friends. Ask former landlords if any damage was left by the pet, and make your decision from there.