Renting with Pets: A Guide to Ontario Rental Law

A recent article by CBC News highlights how hard it can be to find pet-friendly accommodations in Toronto’s competitive rental market. Maybe you have experienced finding the ideal house or apartment, only to have the landlord tell you no pets are allowed. Time to move on and continue the search? Not necessarily.

First, you should know that Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act does not permit landlords to include “no pet” clauses in rental agreements. The only exception is if the property is a condominium and the condominium corporation’s declaration prohibits pets. You should always be aware of whether the “no pets” stipulation is being set by the landlord (which is illegal) or by the condominium corporation (which might be permissible – more on this in a future blog post).

Second, a landlord can refuse to rent to a person who has a pet. It’s unfortunate, but true. The protections provided to pet guardians apply only to tenants. Until a person actually enters into a rental agreement, there is no tenancy; the person and their pets are not protected.

Third, a landlord cannot evict a tenant simply because they were unaware of a pet, or because the pet was adopted after the tenant moved in. A tenant can only be evicted if a pet is making too much noise, damaging the unit, causing an allergic reaction to others, or is considered to be inherently dangerous. Even then, the landlord must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order terminating the tenancy before kicking people and pets out.

Finally, a landlord is not allowed to charge a pet deposit. A landlord is allowed to ask for a last month’s rent deposit, as well as a key or pass card deposit. Notably, the rent deposit must be applied to a tenant’s last month’s rent, and the key deposit must be given back to the tenant upon the return of keys. It is illegal for the landlord to use these deposits for anything else, such as to pay for damage caused to the unit by people or pets.

Animals are our loving companions, and it’s unfortunate that compassionate people whose families include rescued animals may face extra challenges finding housing. Armed with information about your rights, we wish you luck in finding that perfect place for you and your pooch (or any other non-human family member).


 

This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Readers are advised to seek legal counsel prior to acting on any matters discussed.