Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent A Unit to Me Just Because I Have a Pet?
Despite Contrary Terms Within a Lease, Tenants Are Allowed to Possess Pets Within a Residential Premise. The Exceptions Are Where the Pet Poses a Safety Risk or Unreasonably Interferes With Others. A Landlord is Permitted to Inquire About Pets.
A clause within a lease that disallows pets is unlawful and void for being contrary to section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17 (the "RTA"), which forbids a landlord from banning a tenant from owning a pet; and accordingly, even if the tenant previously agreed to the term within a lease, a 'no pets' clause is null and void and unenforceable. The RTA specifically states:
“No pet” Provisions Void
14 A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.
However, and regardless of the s. 14 provision within the RTA voiding a pet ban, exceptions are possible in a few specific situations. The possible exceptions that may be available that would allow for a valid pet ban are provided in s. 76 of the RTA which says:
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.
As per the above exception rules, a pet may be banned if the pet is demonstrated as causing damage to property or causing disruption and interference to others living within the residential complex. Furthermore, where a law, such as a municipal bylaw, or other legal mandate explicitly permits the banning of pets, or where the tenancy is within a condominium corporation that restricts pet ownership as stated within the Condominium Declarations a landlord may be able to ban a pet.
Generally, where a tenancy is governed by the RTA 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.