Does a Tenant Have a Right to Have a Pet?
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.
It is somewhat common that a lease will contain a 'no pets' clause; however, as per section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17 (the "RTA"), any such provision within a lease agreement is void despite the agreement established between the landlord and tenant; and accordingly, such a clause is unenforceable. Specifically, the RTA 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.
With the above said regarding the s. 14 provision within the RTA that voids a pet ban, a few exceptions to this rule do remain depending on specific circumstances. The exceptions that may allow for a pet ban are found in s. 76 of the RTA where it is stated:
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.
Per these exceptions, where it may be shown that a pet is damaging property, genuinely posing a safety risk, unreasonably disrupting or interfering with the peaceful living of others, a pet may be banned. It is also possible that a municipal bylaw, or mandate of another applicable level of government, will restrict rights regarding pets or perhaps pets of a certain breed. Furthermore, if a tenant resides in a unit that is part of a condominium corporation, and the condominium corporation bylaws or proper and formal rules ban pet ownership as prescribed within the applicable Condominium Declarations a pet ban may be valid.
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.