Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent A Unit to Me Just Because I Have a Cat?

A Clause Within a Lease That Purports As a Pet Ban Is Void. Only In Very Limited and Specific Circumstances May a Pet Ban Be Valid.

A Helpful Guide For How to Determine and Understand Whether a Pet Ban Is Legal and Enforceable

Residential Lease Agreement

A lease clause purporting as a pet ban is unlawful and nullified for being contrary to section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O.  2006, Chapter 17, which explicitly states that a pet ban is void. Accordingly, and despite that a tenant may have signed a lease containing such a clause, a 'pet ban' is generally unlawful and unenforceable. Specifically, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 states:

14 A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.

Exceptions

As with most rules, there are exceptions.  In respect of where a landlord is, generally per section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, forbidden from banning a tenant from having pets, section 76 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 provides the exceptions whereas it is said:

76 (1) If an application based on a notice of termination under section 64, 65 or 66 is grounded on the presence, control or behaviour of an animal in or about the residential complex, the Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant without being satisfied that the tenant is keeping an animal and that,

(a) subject to subsection (2), the past behaviour of an animal of that species has substantially interfered with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for all usual purposes by the landlord or other tenants;

(b) subject to subsection (3), the presence of an animal of that species has caused the landlord or another tenant to suffer a serious allergic reaction; or

(c) the presence of an animal of that species or breed is inherently dangerous to the safety of the landlord or the other tenants.

(2) The Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant relying on clause (1) (a) if it is satisfied that the animal kept by the tenant did not cause or contribute to the substantial interference.

(3) The Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant relying on clause (1) (b) if it is satisfied that the animal kept by the tenant did not cause or contribute to the allergic reaction.

Accordingly, if a pet is causing damage to the property, or disruption and interference to others, a 'no pets' condition may be permitted.  Additionally, if a municipal bylaw or other authority forbids the presence of pets, or if the tenancy is within a condominium corporation where the Condominium Declarations forbid the presence of pets, such may, and likely does, over rule the 'no pets' provision and the landlord may, and likely will, be successful in banning a pet.

Summary Comment

Generally, where a tenancy is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and a lease clause purports as a pet ban, such a clause is void and unenforceable. Some exceptions do exist. The possible exceptions include specific situations where a pet is shown as posing a safety risks such as a demonstrably dangerous dog, or where the pet is shown as substantially disruptive to others due to prolonged excessive barking or other interference to the living conditions and reasonable enjoyment of others. Allergy issues may also be a genuine concern. To obtain an Order granting an exception, a landlord must apply to the Landlord Tenant Board.


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