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Finding a home to share with your pet

Margaret Capes | University of Western Ontario | News | August 29th, 2005

Many students looking for rental accommodations in London wish to bring their pets into the unit with them. Often, landlords refuse to rent their apartments or houses to tenants with animals. What most people are unaware of is that landlords are not legally entitled to do so. Under the Tenant Protection Act, it is stated “[a] provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.” Therefore, even if a lease has been signed saying that there will not be any animals in the unit this provisions will not be enforced by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.

Landlords often turn down tenant applications to rent without giving a reason. Once a renter has taken up residence, a landlord is not entitled to prohibit a tenant from having a pet on the premises. There are some limitations on this, as a landlord can ask a tenant to leave for other related occurrences.

Many of these circumstances where a landlord has justification for asking a tenant with a pet to leave are set out in the Tenant Protection Act. For example, a tenant who has a pet that is causing damage to the residence can be asked to leave by the landlord. Another example is where the pet is causing a loss of the usual enjoyment of the property to other tenants or the landlord. This can include situations where the pet causes serious allergic reactions to the landlord or other tenants in the building. This example is obviously more applicable to apartment buildings and similar residential situations, but can also be applied to shared accomodation housing. Finally, if the animal is a breed that is inherently dangerous the landlord will have legal justification to ask the tenant to leave.

If a tenant does not leave after receving prtoper notice from the landlord, the only way the tenant can be evicted is by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal after a full hearing of the facts.

In sum, tenants with pets continue to face barriers in locating sufficient rental accomodations with their animals. Although many private situations may be more stringent about allowing pets into their rental units, many larger property management companies are more flexible about renting to tenants with pets. There may be some additional requirements placed on tenants with pets before they will be given a unit such as a requirement that the carpets be professionally cleaned before leaving the apartment. However, these are often small concessions for the student wishing to keep their pets with them.
This column provides legal information only. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer, community legal clinic or the Lawyer Referral Service at 1-900-565-4577.

If you have questions about the Tenant Protection Act, answers can be found at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal website at or you can call Community Legal Services, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario at 519-661- 3352.
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