Saturday, 8 December 2012

Cats & Dogs: How Many Are Allowed?

In the context of residential tenancy law, the ownership of pets and keeping those pets upon a rental complex sometimes causes significant problems for neighbours and landlords.  There is little dispute today that a landlord, in Ontario, may indeed choose not to rent to a person with pets.  There is no prohibition against a landlord screening out prospective tenants because of pet ownership.  Equally true, however, is that once a tenant is in possession of an apartment, a landlord is not able to terminate the tenancy, nor require the tenant to get rid of the pet.  The law allows tenants to have pets regardless of any lease condition wherein pets are prohibited or even where a tenant signs an agreement not to have pets.

The right of tenants to have pets is not unfettered.  The pets must not become a nuisance, those same pets can not interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by other tenants or the landlord.

A tenant is also required to maintain their pets in accordance with law.  This means that a tenant must look after their pets, properly feed, clean, and care for them.  Failure to do so would qualify as an "illegal act" under the Residential Tenancies Act--as the concept of illegal act under the RTA is broader than conduct that is criminal in nature.  Also, a tenant is required to meet the licencing requirements that are applicable in the local jurisdiction (city, town, municipality).  Failure to abide by the requirements of any such by-law would also be grounds for termination of a tenancy.  An example of an Animal Control By-law (for the City of Ottawa, Ontario) may be found here.

One of the questions I often get from clients who are landlords is how many pets can a tenant have.  There are some people who manage to accumulate a large number of cats and dogs and just the sheer number of these animals in a rental complex can affect the character of the premises in such a way that the landlord feels it necessary to take steps to control the situation.  The answer to the "permitted number" of animals is not set out in the Residential Tenancies Act as this act is silent on the issue.  If a landlord were compelled to use only the Residential Tenancies Act to deal with the impact of the number of animals owned by a tenant the landlord would have to make the case under more general sections of Act dealing with substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment.

However, many landlords will have another manner of approaching the issue of the number of cats and dogs in a rental unit.  Help is found in the Animal Control By-laws of the city, towns, villages, municipalities or townships in which the rental unit is located.  For example, the City of Ottawa, restricts the number of pets (cats and dogs) that are owned to a total of 5 (combined cats and dogs).  If a person owns only dogs, the number is limited to 3.  If a person only owns cats, the number is limited to 5.  Details are here--section 50 for number of dogs, section 65 for number of cats.

What is most helpful about the City of Ottawa Animal Control By-law is that it clearly reflects the serious responsibility of pet ownership.  The scope of the by-law is quite broad and I think it clearly reflects and tries to deal with the problems and issues that commonly arise from pet ownership.  Everything from registration, care, medical attention, number of pets, stoop and scoop, leash laws, roaming cats, micro-chips is addressed.

In my experience the thoroughness of the by-law is useful in that a problem tenant (i.e. a tenant with too many pets, or whose pets are a nuisance) is likely breaching one or more provisions of the Animal Control By-law.  The breaches of the Animal Control By-law very easily becomes legitimate grounds for termination of the tenancy under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.  Furthermore, the existence of the by-law makes it possible for landlords and neighbour tenants to file complaints with the City for investigation and prosecution.  City involvement has the benefit of potentially solving the problem or alternatively providing evidence of illegal activity (i.e. acts breaching the by-law), which the landlord can use as evidence in a hearing against a tenant.

Michael K. E. Thiele
Ottawa Lawyer
Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP

62 comments:

  1. NOT TRUE !!!! i signed a lease that said no pets and ive seen ppl on tv talking about this
    even if you sign a lease that says no pets, there is still NOTHING a LL can do once you move in
    it is NOT enforceable

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    1. Hi: The right to have pets in a rental unit is not an unfettered right. A landlord may refuse to rent to a person with pets but once a person becomes a tenant any "no pet clause" becomes unenforceable--up to a point. Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) makes no Pet Clauses void. However, section 76 of the RTA sets out factors used in evicting someone when the reason for termination (and eviction) is based on the presence of a pet in a rental unit. The two things may seem contradictory at first. However, the law ultimately does make sense on this point as it basically provides that every tenant may indeed have pets. But, if those pets are disruptive, cause problems, bother other people--or even if there are to many of them--a landlord may apply to the Board (after notice to the tenant), to terminate and evict the tenant. If this topic interests you, or concerns your own situation, start a review of the law in the sections noted above. The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board website also has some guidance on "pets".

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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    2. hi my question is my friend walks my dogs and the enforcement people told her we are only allowed three dogs in a apartment, first of all they are all rescues secondly I have never ever heard of such a rule so my question is is this legal he said I had to get rid of one!! yta right these are my children and looked after better then some of the kids in my building can they actually make me get rid of one?? thanks

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  2. I live in an apartment in a high rise. For several years, tenants and their dogs would gather on the grounds and enjoy socializing together. Suddenly, "NO PETS ALLOWED" signs were posted on the grounds, and pets are no longer allowed on the property, except indoors. Is a landlord within their rights to deny pets access to the property in this way? Thanks!

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    1. Hi:

      This is a new one for me and I thought I'd see it all! I'm interested in your comment where you say that ".. pets are no longer allowed on the property, except indoors." I'm going to assume that this was a clarification provided by the landlord or landlord staff after some tenant pet owners went to the landlord asking for clarification. If so, I'm going to further assume that the landlord knows it can't prohibit tenants from having pets and the landlord knows that "no pet clauses" in leases are unenforceable. Perhaps, having signs that there should be no pets on the grounds or anywhere in the complex other than in the apartments is the landlords way of trying to reduce the number of pet owning tenants or in fact to discourage pet ownership. It is trying to do indirectly what they can't do directly. Perhaps the landlord has received complaints from non-pet owning tenants who don't like the number of leashed dogs and cats in elevators or on the grounds and who have complained to the landlord about the large number of animals all around. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. The landlords motivation is of interest to me as it would inform the argument that the landlord would make in support of this restriction. It is in that argument that you would look for the statutory basis to support or refute the position. Without that information it is difficult to know for sure what the outcome would be---and in fact certainty is only obtained after a hearing before the LTB and any appellate court.

      So, I say all of this just to make it clear that the landlord MAY have a point or position to argue that MIGHT support the position. However, from the facts as you relate them I don't see it. I think the landlord's position is illegal and if the additional clarification I presume you received (pets only in apartments) is also what you've been told then that is illegal also [again, to be clear this is my opinion only].

      The reason I say the landlord's position is illegal is because I think it flows from an incomplete understanding of the "no pets" provisions of the RTA. The RTA is not only about "no pets" clauses being void and pets being allowed in apartments. The RTA provisions on pets is actually much broader. Here is the provision, section 14, Residential Tenancies Act:

      14. " NO PET" PROVISIONS VOID---A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.

      You can see from this section that the landlord is not permitted to prohibit the presence of pets in or about the residential complex. "Residential complex" is a defined term in section 2 of the RTA---it is broad and includes---"a building or related group of buildings in which one or more rental units are located, ... includes all common areas and services and facilities available for the use of its residents.

      The basis for your presence on the rental property is your lease and the landlord can't prohibit the presence of pets as you see. The landlord doesn't get around that by imposing the ban outside of the lease provisions--that simply doesn't work.

      Accordingly, in my opinion the ban you describe is unenforceable and void. Be reminded, however, that pet behavior (barking, biting, severe allergy, menacing) and poor pet owner behavior can be the basis for termination of a tenancy and eviction. However, the mere presence of a well behaved pet and pet owner is not.

      Good luck in getting this landlord on Board. You may find that the landlord does not wish to recognize your position. Instead of simply ignoring the ban and doing as you please (there instigating a possible confrontation), consider getting a group of tenants together to file a T2 application to the Landlord and Tenant Board to get a ruling and Order.

      Best of luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  3. my landlord posted a sign in the lobby saying all dogs must be taken far from entrances to the building to defecate because its disgusting to visitors and tenants. It's the middle of winter right now and the only areas on the property where my small dogs can walk are near entrances because the snow plow has blocked off the grass with walls of snow, not to mention I am 6 months pregnant and can't be climbing over a mountain with two dogs! Can he enforce this??

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    1. Hi:

      There are no specific rules in the RTA dealing with where a pet may be allowed to relieve itself. Aside from poop and scoop rules/laws I'm unaware of any other laws that mandate anything in relation pets and where they are allowed to urinate/defecate. I think this falls into the category of "common sense" and common courtesy. Certainly, I can see the landlords point and the complaints of other tenants about pets doing their business near the entrance way of the building. Stoop and scope doesn't apply to urine and one can imagine what the area in front of the door might look like if this is the pet bathroom. "Disgusting" may very well be an apt description. Seeing as the landlord found it necessary to post a sign is it fair to say this is actually a problem--looking at it objectively? If so, I do think that this is a rule that the landlord would be able to enforce and regularly allowing a pet to do its business right near the doors (even if you stoop and scoop) could be grounds for termination of a tenancy. Context of course is everything and perhaps your pregnancy gets you some consideration. However, I don't think it would be unreasonable to expect you to take the dogs for a walk, away from the building, to allow the call of nature to be done further from the building.

      Landlord policies that are designed to restrict the presence of pets are unlikely to be enforced. However, what you describe doesn't sound to me to be such a policy.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  4. Hi, Michael;

    I don't know if you can offer any advice, but here goes.

    My neighbour is very disruptive. About 6 weeks ago, he purchased a Boxer puppy. Two main issues have arisen:

    1) When he isn't home, his puppy would bark constantly the entire time he was gone. It was loud enough that I could hear it in my apartment with medium-volume music playing. Another neighbour (who lives above him) could also hear it. Fortunately, this seems to have stopped (for now anyway).

    2) My neighbour is very lazy. In the morning, he brings his dog outside without a leash, and allows the dog to run around the backyard (the building is a house converted to 4 apartments -- 2nd floor, 1st floor, and 2 in the basement). The dog will go to the bathroom, and the neighbour often does not pick up the poop.

    I have spoken to my property manager several times (including the latest, this morning) and she initially said that she would give him notice that these two things must cease immediately. Since she said that, nothing has changed; when I messaged her this morning, she never even replied and as of right now the pile of poop (from this morning) is still there.

    Is there anything I can do to force her to deal with this? I read the bylaw for my city, and it doesn't seem to address this.

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi:

      You must document your complaints about this tenant and his dog to the landlord. Also, collect some evidence of the transgressions. Some pictures or short video of the dog doing its business and not being cleaned up after would be good evidence to have. Presumably there are numerous piles in the yard that you could take a picture of to demonstrate the extent of the problem. The dog barking is perhaps something you can record on your phone? Make a note of the date and time of day, the duration of the barking, and how loud it is.

      Send your complaints to the landlord and provide the evidence of the problems to the landlord as well. Advise the landlord that you need the landlord to take steps to deal with these issues (likely a Notice of Termination). If the landlord does nothing, then you can advise the landlord that your only option is to file an application against the landlord at the LTB for failing to ensure that you have quiet enjoyment of the premises. In such a claim you would have to be able to prove that you have repeatedly advised the landlord of the problem, that the landlord has done nothing, that the problem continues, and that the problem actually exists and causes you to have a diminished enjoyment of your rental unit.

      If it gets to the point of you filing an application against the landlord you will be asking for a rent abatement and an order requiring the landlord to fulfill his obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act--i.e. take action against the offending tenant. Under the current structure of the RTA you do not have the right to proceed directly against the offending tenant at the LTB.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  5. Hi Michael, I own a triplex and one of my tenants after years of occupancy brought home an Australian Shepherd (about the same size as a medium German Shepherd). She rescued the dog which s now 5 years old. She lets the dog run loose in the rear parking lot most of the day, except in the winter months. Even though the dog has not showed aggressive behaviour towards humans other than growling at the postman, and he refusing to deliver the mail at times. My concern is about liability if the dog bites or attacks an unknown visitor, even if the attack was not initiated by the dog. Is the tenant required by law, Ontario Landlord/Tenant Act, to carry liability such as renter's insurance with a dog bite clause? and is it legal grounds for eviction if she does not have the insurance? If there is no legal grounds and the tenant refuses to purchase insurance, what can I do to protect my wife and I from any liability that may arise if the dog decides to bite someone?
    Thanks,
    Tony B.

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    1. Hi Tony:

      Thank you for this question. The topic speaks to what I think is a big hole in the Residential Tenancies Act. There is nothing specific in the Residential Tenancies Act that allows a landlord to require a tenant to be insured for risks associated with pet ownership or for just general liability. The lease agreement with the tenant may require a tenant to be insured and in theory a landlord could also require a tenant's insurer to name the landlord as an insured under the policy. If the lease requires a tenant to be insured and to provide proof of insurance to the landlord and the tenant fails to do so then a landlord could seek to terminate the tenancy with a form N5 which form would give a tenant a chance to remedy the problem by getting the insurance.

      I haven't come across many applications to terminate for not having insurance though I have seen a few Notices of Termination based on the requirement in the lease. I haven't seen any Orders terminating a tenancy for lack of insurance though that certainly doesn't mean there aren't any such Orders. From a hearing that I did watch, on this point, the adjudicator was very unsympathetic to the landlord and did not place much weight on the insurance requirement. From another hearing on the same insurance requirement topic that I watched the adjudicator determined that the insurance requirement wasn't a "serious" requirement because the landlord had not followed up regularly on the requirement notwithstanding that an insurance clause was in the lease. Again, my experience is that the Board places very little value on the "insurance clause" and will seek to avoid any consequence for a tenant not having the insurance.

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    2. If anyone reading this article has had a different experience or even has successfully obtained Orders I would love to hear from you.

      What is the risk to the landlord of a dog on the premises? In my opinion, if a dog on the landlord's property bites someone then the injured person is going to first go after the dog owner. If the dog owner is uninsured and effectively judgment proof (i.e. broke), then the injured person is going to go after the first deep pocket in line after the dog owner. The landlord is the next deep pocket.

      Will a claim against a landlord be successful? There is law that supports such claims especially when the landlord has knowledge of the dog being a biter. With knowledge of a biting dog on its property the landlord is aware of a danger on its property to people who may be on the property. Liability I think follows fairly easily after that.

      What about situations where a landlord has no knowledge that the dog is vicious? My personal view is that liability should automatically follow simply on the strength that the dog is harboured on the property owned by the landlord. In my opinion, the liability can follow in a logic similar to occupier's liability and reasonably delegating responsibility to a third party. In my view, when a landlord rents a property to a tenant they know that the law allows the tenant to have a pet. There is virtually nothing that can be done to stop the tenant from getting a dog (no pet clauses being illegal). Pet ownership is a normal part of residential living and it is entirely foreseeable that tenants would get a dog. The biting risk of having a dog is well known and I don't think anyone would ever seriously question the fact that dogs will bite (even if just a little nip for fun).

      That a dog bite will cause harm and damage to the victim--sometimes extremely traumatic injuries is within a landlord's contemplation. As that harm arises from the landlord's use of the property as a rental unit--i.e. purposely bringing tenants onto the property for the purpose of profit, I think the landlord should be liable for damages caused by the presence of a dog on the property unless the landlord has taken adequate and reasonable precautions to evict a tenant for an uncontrolled vicious dog and further taken steps to ensure that compensation is available for victims of dog bits on the landlord's property. That step of ensuring that compensation is available is the "insurance clause" in the lease and making sure that the tenant complies with the clause.


      All of that being said, please understand that the foregoing is my opinion only. I do have a current case where my client is pursuing a landlord, for a dog bite, on the logic of what I have written above. There are some legal hurdles as making a landlord liable for another person's dog offends the sensibilities of some lawyers and judges. There are fans of the argument the other way as well. I'm not aware of any binding authority on the point and will see if what I have stated above finds favour in the Court. Ultimately, I am sympathetic to the victims of the dog bite as they tend to be innocent in the entire circumstances of the event. A dog owner should be insured and have their dog on a leash and their dog under control. A landlord knows that there are dogs on their property and that dogs may bite and cause injury and that precautions need to be taken to ensure that victims are helped. As between a dog owner, landlord, or victim, I think the law will choose to help the victim.

      If you find yourself being sued for a dog bite case, for a tenant's dog, contact your own insurer to report the claim. You may wish to check with them now to ensure that you have coverage for such an incident.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    3. So you're arguing that even though a landlord cannot prevent a dog from living on the premises and can only use the time consuming steps within the LT Act to get a tenant to comply with leashing the animal, that if the animal causes harm, it's the landlord's responsibility and should pay damages? Landlords are prevented from making rules around this but should be liable? This is ridiculous as there is almost no way for landlords to protect themselves. You're part of the problem with the system.

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    4. Hi: Thanks for the comment. My point was that the Residential Tenancies Act lacks an explicit enforcement tool allowing landlords to easily require tenants to have insurance that would cover the tenants' negligence. The "time consuming" steps you are talking about are the kinds of things that form part of the job of being a landlord. Surely you don't think a landlord can just close his eyes to what a tenant is doing on his property? What if the tenant is storing garbage, hazardous waste, creating a nuisance for neighbours, building dangerous structures--these are all things that a landlord has an obligation to deal with.

      My point is that if a landlord has no right to prevent dog ownership then the landlord should have the right (easily) to force a tenant to have insurance and to be able to evict that tenant if they don't, so that the landlord is not liable to an innocent victim of a dog owned by a tenant.

      In my view, every dog owner in the province should be required to have insurance for the risk that their dogs represent to the innocent victims. In my firm we have seen the effects of vicious dog bites and the disfigurement and disabilities caused by dogs. Often enough the dog owners say that this is the first time their dog ever did anything like this, that the dog is gentle, friendly, etc etc., except this time someone is seriously hurt.

      Unfortunately, the people most seriously hurt by dog bites are often little kids. If I have any say in who the law protects I can assure you I'm on the side of the victims and not the landlord or the tenant dog owner--both of whom are less innocent than the victim.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  6. Hello Michael. I rent a condo unit from its owners. The condo board has a dog weight restriction bylaw that I was not aware of when I moved in, in February of this year. I am being asked to remove my 10 yr old Bonnie from this unit. Obviously I'll have to break my lease and spend who knows how much to move again. Do I have any rights here or am I at the condo boards mercy?

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  7. Quote " Furthermore, the existence of the by-law makes it possible for landlords and neighbour tenants to file complaints with the City for investigation and prosecution." Apparently according to my landlord if the property is considered private property the neighbor has no voice :/ ? I live in a subsidized housing apartment building that is associated with the city. Its considered private property and so this point in the landlord tenancy script is immune to city property ? :/

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  8. Hi,

    We have a tenant with a large Goldendoodle. We agreed to let him have the dog as the dog is a sweet and gentle dog and he does not shed. However, we have had conflicts with the tenant because he DOES NOT clean up after his dog. My fiancé and I live in the basement apartment with a walk out to the backyard. We have granted his dog access to the backyard to do his business. The first year we had him as a tenant, we told him he needs to clean up after his dog everyday and he said that was "overkill". So he started to do it a couple of times a week. Right now it's the end of September and the last time he was out there cleaning up after his dog was March. That's almost 7 months ago. We have two dogs, so my fiancé is out there everyday cleaning up after our dogs and his. We have a small and medium sized dog, so the poop is different. I can tell which mess was made from my dogs and from his. Can I give him an eviction notice for this? He really takes advantage of us because we're young and he's a real estate agent. We really want him out. He also leaves every single light on whenever he leaves the house because his dog is scared of the dark. His rent includes hydro and gas and the bills have been expensive. What can we do?

    Thanks,

    K

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    1. Hi: Presuming that the Residential Tenancies Act applies to your relationship with this tenant you may serve him with a Form N5 for the dog poop. Collect some evidence of pooping dog--perhaps a surreptitious video. It is entirely 100% reasonable to expect dog poop to be picked up immediately after the pooping is done. It isn't overkill and if he doesn't do it he will be evicted. The key will be proving it. Keep track, take pictures, and video. Read the instructions to the N5 form which you can get on the Landlord and Tenant Board website.

      Leaving every single light on in the place is wasteful. It is also extremely difficult to regulate that behaviour through termination notices. So much so, that I'd consider leaving that issue alone for now.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  9. Hi Michael,

    I've read all the comments here hoping for an answer to my question but I don't see anything similar to my situation. I live in a row of 10 townhouses between two high rises owned by the same company. They have issued a letter to "all dog owners" complaining that lately they have been picking up a lot of dog feces along the property. The manager is new so I'm not sure if he's trying to set out his own rules but he's been inside my home a few times to fix things and he's seen that I have two cats and two dogs as well a a couple of tortoises in their tanks.

    Today along with the letter he also attached a copy of the lease ( which says no pets allowed- big surprise! ) but also a "Pet Policy" which is new to me and they say:

    "we welcome you and your pet/s. However residents must comply with the following rules:

    -All pets must be registered with the resident manager
    -Allowable pets are cats,dogs birds and fish ( in a maximum 30 gallon aquarium)
    -Not allowed:Rodents,reptiles or dogs classified as vicious
    -Each suite is allowed a maximum of two pets, with the exception of dogs. Each suite is allowed only one dog, weighing no more than 25 pounds.
    -All pets must be spayed or neutered
    -Visiting animals are not permitted at any time"

    Then they go on "this agreement is entered into this ___of___,20__between (rental office) and____(resident) residing at_____.

    Description of Pet:
    Name of animal _____
    Species or Breed ____
    Color ____
    Weight _____
    Age _____
    Neutered/Spayed _______
    License/Tag# ________ "

    Are they ALLOWED to request this information from us??? I have more than one dog as per their letter and I know I've read everywhere they can't evict us for our pets if we have more than one and are not bothering anyone but do I have to fill out this form and return it to them? or can I refuse because it's none of their business and they are just trying to be bullies about it. I told my fiance we should just ignore it because as mentioned the manager has been into our home before and he knows I have more than one dog and that if we were personally the issue, we would have received a letter by now and not just a general letter to all the tenants.

    Any advice would be truly appreciated!

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi: I will make the assumption that you are in a regular rental unit that is not part of a condominium corporation. The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), sets out the pet rules in section 14. It is worth reading the section so I set it out here:

      A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void. 2006, c. 17, s. 14

      [note that section 76 RTA comes into effect when eviction proceedings are based on the presence of an animal]

      Based on the language of the Residential Tenancies Act there are a number of problems with your landlord's stated position as to the "policy" of the landlord. Section 14 deals with animals so the limitation imposed by the landlord isn't valid with respect to allowable animals. Other demands seem rather arbitrary as well and unenforceable. Accordingly, I don't think you can be required to provide the information requested and the policy is not something I would be too concerned about. Though if the landlord insists you might find yourself having to defend an application at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

      The only part of the landlord's requirements that seem enforceable are the parts dealing with the Licence/Tag # which implies registration with the City/Town you are in. That is a legal requirement--regardless of the landlord--which if you fail to comply could arguably allow for an application to terminate based on illegal act. Similarly, the landlord's purported restriction on the number of animals, thyme of animal, is not valid based on the landlord's whim. However, if there is a city/town/township by-law dealing with numbers of animals, treatment of animals, etc., those have to be obeyed as the landlord could argue that a breach of those rules constitutes an illegal act for which eviction may be sought (and yes, successfully).

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  10. Hi I'm interested in the ideas of a apartment building that has all the entrances covered in no pets signs yet we have seen three tenets with cats now and our thinking of adopting our own butter because we signed without one would they have plausible cause of eviction

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    1. Hi Brook: The Residential Tenancies Act, in section 14, makes no pet clauses in leases void. Simply having a pet is not grounds for termination. If the animal causes problems, or the tenant causes problems in owing the pet then those may be grounds for termination. But speaking generally, you may have a pet if you are a tenant in a regular landlord and tenant relationship. If you are in a condominium check the rules with the management company.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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  11. Hi,
    I live in a basement apartment of a house
    I would love to get a small dog and wanted to know if the law is different because I am in a house

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    1. Hi Jeff: If your living accommodation is subject to the Residential Tenancies Act then you have the same rights with respect to animals as everyone else regardless of the nature of their rental housing. That being said, please remember that the right to have a pet/animal is not absolute. If the animal is a nuisance, causes substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment--like triggering serious allergies, or makes noise, or causes damage, the presence of the animal can be grounds for an application to terminate your tenancy.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  12. Hi Micheal
    I live in Ontario I moved into a townhouse when interviewed for the rental the landlord said absolutley no pets I told her I have 2 cats she said no way could I bring the cats in ( they are 3 yrs and 8yr old) I told her I would look for temperary foster I would not surrender them my I had to sign my lease saying I would not have pets my foster isnt working out can my landlord do anything to me if I move them in with me I have only been renting for 4 month ThankYou Rhonda

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    1. Hi Rhonda: The law in Ontario makes any "no pet" provisions in a residential tenancy agreement void. If your tenancy is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act you may not be legally evicted for the mere fact of owning pets or having pets in your rental unit. As most things in life though, there are exceptions to every rule. While you have the right to have a pet, that right is restricted if the pets cause damage or otherwise interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by the landlord or another tenant. In my experience an issue with cats can be allergies. You describe your rental unit as a townhouse. I'm not sure if you are in a unit within the townhouse or if you have the entire townhouse. If you are in a complex that shares air through the vents and furnace there is a greater chance that the cats will be a problem. It would be worthwhile, in my view, to write the landlord and advise that you need to move the pets into your unit. Advise the landlord that you intend to do so and ask if there is anything you should be aware of before moving the cats in with you. This is an invitation to the landlord to explain if there are allergies or some other serious condition or reason that pets can not be brought into the rental complex. Note that it will have to be a rather serious issue that would deprive you of the right to have your pets (i.e. it is highly unlikely that there is a good enough reason to deprive you of the right to have pets).

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  13. Hi Michael,

    I live rent an apartment in an 8 plex. My landlord has just informed us that he wants vet papers for every animal in the building in 2 days or we will either be forced to get rid of our animals or evicted. I moved in a month ago with my puppy (which he was aware of) and have no vets papers as of yet as the people we bought him from dud not provide them and we can not reach them. Is my landlird within his rights to a) demand these papers and b) make the threats of eviction or loss of our pet?

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    1. Hi: The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act makes absolutely no provision for the landlord being able to demand "vet papers" from tenants. Further, there is no ground of termination in the Residential Tenancies Act for not providing the landlord with "vet papers". I'd be interested to hear if there is some context to this demand that makes the demand seem reasonable in the circumstances. As you describe the demand it sounds arbitrary and if there is no reasonable context it is entirely unenforceable.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  14. Hello,

    My dog barks on occasion on the weekend if no one is home. He is with me at work during the week so there is no barking. I got a complaint on a Sunday night at 7pm. This is after living there with my dog for 3 months and having no complaints. I rent from a landlord and the complaint was made the the building management. Can management evict me without the approval of my landlord? Is it considered a legitimate complaint if it is made on the weekend before 11pm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: Presuming a normal landlord and tenant relationship the issue with your dog will be the extent and degree of the barking. As tenant's are entitled to have pets it would not be reasonable to require absolute silence from those pets. An occasional bark or short period of noise from a dog, I think, is something that people just have to learn to deal with--sort of like a baby crying. If the noise is considered excessive the landlord can bring an application to terminate and evict after serving a Notice of Termination. The usual notice used is a Form N5. That form stipulates that the noise has to be a substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment. Note that the requirement is "substantial" and not just "any interference". An adjudicator at the Landlord and Tenant Board would determine whether the complaints against you are legitimate or whether the complainant is over-reacting to an occasional bark etc.. The adjudicator has a wide range of discretion in making a decision. Even if the adjudicator determines that the barking was a substantial interference the adjudicator does not have to terminate the tenancy. There is a range of discretion for the adjudicator if he thinks there is a way to save the tenancy but stop the problems.

      Part two of your question is potentially complicating. It sounds like you might be describing a condominium corporation. The rules can be different in condo corps. If this is your situation you need to have a lawyer look at your condo rules and declaration in relation to pets. That being said, the eviction process is still, typically, to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The condo board will be writing to your landlord about the alleged noise and will be trying to get the landlord to take steps against you. This can be difficult for landlords where they do not own other units in the building. Sometimes, and it is possible, the entire issue can by-pass the Landlord and Tenant Board and end up in the Superior Court of Justice. For clarity on this point, if you are in a condo, you will need to get legal help. Typically what happens is that the condo management company will write to the landlord telling him that he has to get the tenant to quiet down and they will threaten the landlord with costs and liens if the problem isn't solved. That in turn results in the landlord trying to solve the problem or trying to evict the tenant. The tenant can always fight the landlord at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Where this is done successfully the condo board then sometimes names both landlord and tenant as respondents to an application in the Superior Court. It can get messy!

      Good luck with this

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  15. Hi there,

    When my landlord learned of my new kitten he made a big fuss and said he didn't get an application for pet ownership. Now, 2 months later he told me today that I have to clean my carpets twice a year because of the cat. Can he enforce this?

    Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: The short answer is no. Your obligation as a tenant is to maintain the rental unit to a standard of ordinary cleanliness. If your cat does not do anything that would require the carpet to be cleaned then it is not necessary to do so. However, if your cat does make messes, sprays, etc., then you may find yourself responsible not only for carpet cleaning but repair to walls and even replacing flooring and sections of wall where the cat sprays. It all depends on what your pet does. The key to knowing is to ask yourself whether your unit meets the standard of "ordinary cleanliness".

      Good luck

      Michael K.E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  16. Hi
    My parents live in an apartment with no pets allowed.
    I have a dog and where they lived before I would visit them with my dog. My question is can they forbid me from bringing my dog for a visit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi:

      There really is no such thing as a no pets allowed apartment in Ontario. While a landlord may want to enforce such clauses they are technically illegal under the Residential Tenancies Act. There can be some issues in condominium units if pets are prohibited in the condo declaration/rules/by-laws, but the general rule is that people are allowed to have pets. This is doubly so if the pet qualifies as a service animal.

      Visiting with a pet is likely permissible as well and I doubt that a landlord could do anything about it (presuming an uncomplicated RTA covered building). That being said, be prepared for confrontation with the landlord if you decide to bring your dog over for a visit. It may become uncomfortable.

      Instead of unilateral action (i.e. showing up with your dog), you might consider having your parents file a T2 application to the Landlord and Tenant Board asking the Board to make a ruling on the no pet clause and issue an order setting out whether you can visit them with your dog. The application is free to file and is less confrontational way of proceeding on this issue.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  17. Can a landlord restrict your access to a front door if you have a dog? Our ll insists that we use the side door of the building. To get to this door you have to go through a long narrow winding corridor - its a hassle to get to and its far from convenient. On several occasions I became trapped in this corridor with my dog between other owners and their dogs in front and back of me. It almost led to an attack aND my dog getting bitten. In addition there is no lighting, no handicap access, and limited snow removal from the side door. No where in my lease is it specified to use the side door. I was told I would be fined if I continue to use the front door.

    I continue to use the front door as it provides adequate space in the event that I pass other dogs. If I had known about this rule I never would have moved into this building. Can my landlord restrict my access to the front door and fine me if I use it with my dog? Is this legal? I feel like a second class citizen. I thought this building was dog friendly...

    ReplyDelete
  18. New tenants moved under me a couple of years ago ( no problems) about six months into there tenancy they got a small rescue dog! Problems begin now the first week they get this dog the go to work Monday morning at 7 am and this dog hotels and barks non stop it continued when I left the apt at 10 am now I know this is the first week for this dog in its new surroundings so I let the landlord know and we agreed to give the dog a week to settle in ( after all everyone should be happy ) so this little guy who get left alone from 7am till 6 pm daily has settled down a bit but still howles from the time they leave sometimes for 1/2 hr sometimes 1-2 hours it varies everyday he also barks every morning briefly around 6:15 am. Every time I complain to the landlord they come back with an " oh you made a lot of noise last night ( never happened) it's a retaliation thing. Then the landlord served us with an N5 ( notice to end tenancy) holy right ?????? We didn't complain all thru Christmas wanting to pretend that it will get better and really not wanting anymore retaliation but they have started leaving their place early Sunday mornings and this dog howles from the time they leave until 2 hours goes by and it must exhaust itself. I feel bad for the dog always being left alone for long hours but I'm feeling bad for myself that this animal is disrupting the enjoyment of my unit and the fact that the landlord thinks it is acceptable. It there anything else I can do other then moving out which I really don't want to do and rightfully shouldn't have to???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: You should complain to the landlord in writing and advise that unless he takes steps to fix the issue that you will file a T2 application against the landlord for failing to take steps to ensure that you have quiet enjoyment of your unit. You should record the howling and collect evidence of the problem. If you can, call by-law and report the noise and ask for an officer to attend and give the neighbours a warning/ticket. The evidence of the officer hearing the noise will also be useful in your proceedings against the landlord.

      Lastly, and I mention this more as a reminder than anything else. If the animal in the unit appears to be in distress then you can always call the Humane Society to make a report. Certainly, some barking and howling is not enough to make that call but if it gets to the extent of it exhausting itself and this happens over and over then maybe you call the Humane Society and at least get some advice as to whether this is something they should be informed of.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  19. I'm a landlord with serious health issues related to pet allergies. I can't have animals with any sort of fur anywhere near me or I will end up sick in the hospital. What can I do, there is no way that tenants should be allowed to have any animals in a property that they don't own. I hope someone overturns this law ASAP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: There is an answer for you already in the law. You should make it very clear in your application for renting and further have a clause in the lease that clearly spells out that you are allergic to animals. If there is a specific name for your condition you could spell that out as well. You may even want to get the tenant to acknowledge your pet allergy and that pets in the premises are prohibited due to your health condition.

      If a tenant should breach your no pet clause and bring a pet in, they would presumptively have the right to do so. However, being allergic to animals and having a serious adverse health reactions to he presence of animals is grounds to terminate and evict a tenant. An application to terminate would be based on substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment and the RTA, in section 76, does address the nature of an application based on the presence of animals. It states as follows:

      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. 2006, c. 17, s. 76 (1).

      Same
      (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. 2006, c. 17, s. 76 (2).

      Same
      (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. 2006, c. 17, s. 76 (3)

      The law does allow termination if the tenant's animal causes an allergic reaction. You will have to prove it but it is not impossible to do. With a very serious allergy, the Board will be more inclined to accept your application and have less sympathy for the tenant if you can demonstrate that you were very clear and forthright at the beginning of the tenancy that you have a severe allergy to animals. Consider getting a letter from your physician setting out the nature of your allergy and the severity of it. This will be important evidence to have at any hearing.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  20. Hi Michael,

    I live in an apartment building. We have a new neighbour and he has two dogs. One dog is big and by big I mean huge. During night time around 10 to 11 PM he takes his dog in the hallway (9th floor) and runs back and forth with his dog to exercise as the weather outside is cold. Its so big that sometimes my kids hears its puffs even inside the apartment. His apartment door is in front of the elevator. But, he takes his dog and brings his dog towards our apartment and runs back and forth in the hallway each night around 10 to 11 pm. Few times, when my wife or my son opened the door to go and drop the garbage in the thrush shoot, the saw a big dog in front of our door and they got scared. Although, the dog is leashed, and it is not barking but it is trying to come towards you. Or sometimes, in the elevator, which is a small place it is coming with kids and they get scared. I have another neighbor, who also complains that her kids are scared of this huge dog and they do not want to go alone in the hallway. Last night, when my wife opened the door around 11:00 PM to drop the garbage, the dog was in front of our door and she asked the young teen who was with it to take it into their apartment so my wife could drop the garbage. She refused and asked her mom and they made a big noise in the hallway. Her mom shouted so much and said we washed our dog and therefore we walked her in the hallway to be dry. They said, we don't care that you guys get scared. They were shouting so loudly at my wife and myself. We decided to avoid any further interaction with them and went back to our apartment. They were still outside and shouting. My wife said if you behave like this we will call the police. We tried to be calm and ignore the issue. Today, I called the superintendent of the building. He asked me to write a written complaint. He said that the lady's husband is employed by the building as cleaner in the building and he should behave properly with tenants and make sure to have good behavior. He said, the office may terminate his job contract. I have not written the complaint as her husband (the cleaner) was not present that night. I thought, he may loose his job and I do not want this to happen. Tonight, I opened my apartment as our guest were coming for Good Friday, her husband was in the hallway and he shouted from his door to me that "What do you want now?". I said, nothing I opened the door for my guests. He again shouted "go and bring the police. Why didn't you call the police?". Then he was laughing so loudly. He wanted to provoke me, but I ignored him and said I do not want to talk to him. I talked to the building super. If you have any concern talk to them. I was so embarrassed in front of my guests and I ignored them. We are new to Canada and we do not know so much about regulations. Can you please advice me what should I do? I respect the police and understand that they are very busy with big problems and big crimes in the city and we should not involve them in small disputes. However, my neighbour's behavior is unacceptable. Shall I call police? Shall I call Animal Group? What should I do.

    Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: Thank you for your question. The situation you are describing with the dog in the hallway, being scared, running the dog up and down the hallway, drying the dog in the hallway, refusal to move the dog to allow you to enter the garbage room, is not in my view the type of thing that the police would take a very active interest in. This does not mean that you should not call the police--perhaps having officers respond would indeed make your uncivil neighbours think twice about their behaviour. The likelihood is that the police officers would find no crime being committed and they would take a report but suggest to you to contact the building/landlord about your complaints.

      In my view, the way to proceed is with a formal written complaint to the landlord. Provide details of what has happened (date, time, location, etc.). If it happens regularly enough I suppose it would be fairly simple to enter the hallway (presuming no risk of physical danger) with the record feature on a smart phone activated to collect evidence. A written complaint to the landlord should result in action against the tenant/dog owner. If the tenant/dog owner is an employee then it is possible that they are not tenants and could be evicted quickly by the landlord. Alternatively, if they are tenants (as defined in the Residential Tenancies Act), the landlord could serve them with a Notice of Termination. This notice would likely be an N5 Notice of Termination which is a notice that can be voided by the tenants. It is voided by stopping the behaviour complained of--which would be what you want. If they continue to be ignorant neighbours and demonstrate that they can not be civil then that is worthy of a further complaint and the landlord can take further action to evict with a non-voidable Notice of Termination (a second N5 notice).

      Whether you have satisfaction in your dealings with the landlord is another question altogether. The landlord has a duty to ensure that you have quiet enjoyment of your rental unit. I can assure you that the actions of your neighbour are unacceptable. Your landlord must deal with this and must resolve the issue by taking action. However, it does happen that a landlord may not wish to take action, may not find the circumstances warranting action, or simply does not care. If your landlord responds in this fashion then you may have to take action against your landlord . There is a process for this as well. You do not, generally, take action against your neighbour directly at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

      I hope that the foregoing is helpful to you. If you need more, there are lawyers (like me) and paralegals who specialize in Landlord and Tenant law. A consultation may be useful as would be getting one of them to write a letter to your landlord.

      Good luck
      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  21. Hi Michael, hoping you can help:

    My landlords recently posted signs behind the apartment (not condo) where there is a large, fenced in green space indicating that "dogs must be leashed at all times and shall not defecate on property"; are either enforceable? Presumably dogs can defecate providing the owner cleans up. The leash though... Many people use that space to play fetch and run their dogs and ensure they get enough exercise. Requiring leashes on private property seems excessive.

    Also, I have a puppy (4 months) who has a very high pitched (admittedly, unbearable) bark. The girl beside me has complained and frequently pounds on the wall (Which are concrete!). The most recent was last night (only 10:30) and the dog had barked a few times. To me this is akin to a baby crying and she needs to lighten up. I know she used to complain about our old neighbours as well. What's reasonable? At what point can my landlord justify evicting me? I get that its annoying but it's Puppy and I'm doing everything possible to curb the barking.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: Your questions are not the easiest to answer. In sense, prohibiting the natural functions of a pet is an impossibility and nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to prohibit pets. That of course is problematic given that the RTA makes no pet provisions illegal. Allowing pets, but prohibiting them from natural functions, is not really allowing pets at all. Arguably, the prohibition is void as it is a no pet clause.

      However, there is another view. The RTA is not so clear about the right of tenants to have pets in common areas. Do you, as a tenant, have a right to use the fenced in green space? If so, do you have the right to use it with your pet? To answer this question I think you need to look at your lease and then consider the representations made at the time of leasing the premises. I think it is open to a landlord to restrict the use of certain common elements from the presence of pets. The RTA does not give you the right to bring your pet everywhere in the residential complex--though impliedly you have the right to bring your pet wherever it is necessary to access the premises and your unit.

      It seems to me that the no pooping and no peeing prohibition is ill conceived and impossible in any event. The question is whether the use of the green space includes the use of the green space as a place for tenants to walk their pets. If so, then the prohibition is, in my view nonsense as it operates as a no pet clause which is illegal. However, I do think it is possible to prohibit the presence of pets in certain common areas--not everything needs to be pet friendly. How reasonable and how enforceable the restriction of pets in certain areas is will be a matter of context and a matter of the lease agreement. For instance, if the green space is small and there are a lot of pets using the space--you might find that the space begins to take on a certain odour of urine etc., which makes the space unappealing to all except the pet owners. In such circumstances, restricting pets from using that space might be reasonable. Certainly, if a landlord prohibits the use of certain common space at the time of lease signing the need for a "good reason" becomes less significant as the prohibition arises as a matter of contract that does not technically breach the RTA. That being said, there will always be circumstances something that is legal in one context may be illegal in another. For example, say the residential complex was surrounded by a lot of land--imagine a large residential complex of town homes--so big that it would take 10 minutes to walk off of the residential complex. A clause prohibiting pooing and peeing on the residential complex in that circumstance is tantamount to a no pet clause which I think would clearly be unenforceable.

      Delete
    2. With respect to leashes I think the answer likely lies entirely with the city, town, township where you are located. There is likely a leash by-law that requires dogs to be leashed at all times unless in a specified off leash dog park. With respect to leashing requirements on private property I'm afraid that this one, in my view, goes entirely against you. Many people do not like dogs and don't want to have a dog jump on them. For many, seeing a dog off leash is worrisome and affects their enjoyment of being outside as dogs are unpredictable---and yes, I've heard it many times where dog owners swear to the great behavior of their dogs--including the dogs that in a very out of character way bit someone. A landlord who encourages or allows dogs to be off leash to his property is inviting any dog bite victim to sue the landlord. The landlord, arguably, is liable via the Occupiers Liability Act if the landlord allows unleashed dogs to run around the property.

      With respect to a barking dog. Expecting perfect silence is unreasonable and such a requirement is not unlike a prohibition on dogs all together. There is a balance and some noise will have to be tolerated. However, barking continuously for lengths of time will not be considered okay. Again, context is everything, and it depends on how much the barking or whimpering is affecting neighbours and whether their reaction to the sound is reasonable. Remember it is substantial interference with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit--the key being "substantial", "reasonable", enjoyment of an objective individual.

      Hope that helps somewhat. These are complicated questions that you've raised that don't have simple answers.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much for your thoughts. It is very helpful. I hope you know that you're providing valuable guidance and it is greatly appreciated!

      Delete
  22. Hello, Gabe here -
    I live in an apartment building and have 1 dog, and from time to time my landlord will make comments about wanting the dog fixed. Can my landlord force me to spay/nueter my dog?
    please help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gabe: The landlord may have his wishes and the desire may be a reasonable one or a "good thing" to do. However, a landlord in Ontario has no legal right to require you to spay/neuter your dog. If your landlord wants to suggest that having your dog fixed is a condition of having a pet in the building that condition would not be enforceable under the Residential Tenancies Act as it would have the effect of being a no pet clause that is unenforceable.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
    2. Hi Michael, did you have any thoughts on my post above Gabe's? Hoping for some guidance here. Thanks in advance.

      Delete
  23. As a landlord in Toronto, I have a severe allergy to cats. I am planning on moving back to my place. However, my property manager just told me that the tenant has had a cat in the apartment.

    I want to evict her and get it cleaned out and aired out a month before her lease is up.

    What can I do? What are my rights?

    It just seems unfair that I can't a. use any of her deposit for the cleaning fee. b. can't evict her even though I have a severe allergy.

    The hitch may be that I'm not currently living back there yet, but having her stay around for another month and not having time to sufficiently air out the place puts me in a terrible position.

    Please advise. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: I have to assume that your lease had no clause prohibiting the presence of pets in the rental unit. While generally unenforceable, such clause can be made to stick if you can prove that there is indeed a severe allergy to animals that will be triggered with you attending o the property. With such a clause you would have grounds to serve a Notice of Termination and also perhaps have grounds to sue her for the damages you will certainly sustain (i.e. costs of cleaning and costs of staying somewhere until the unit is habitable).

      Without any "no cat(s) clause" in the lease I presume that there is no reason why the tenant would have assumed that having a cat would cause any problem? She does have the right to have pets as the general presumption is that tenants may have pets even over the objections of landlords. As such, I don't see much of an option for you against the tenant. Early eviction (before the end of term) needs to be based on a breach of the RTA or breach of the lease. You don't describe such action and hence requiring her to vacate early is unlikely to work unless she consents.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  24. Hi Michel,

    I live in a basement shared with a friend, and I decided to adopt 2 rats that would stay in their cage and I would let them out only under my supervision (not cats or dogs because I don't want the possibility of disturbing people with noise). We signed the contract together (same contract) and it says "no pets allowed" and that "a fee of 1000 cad/month will be charged for an accommodation of such". I talked to the landlords about it (one of them lives in the ground floor but we dont share bathroom or kitchen) but they were still reluctant in accepting the pets, so I told them that they couldn't prevent me from having pets according to the RTA. They said that even if is true (which is) they would charge me with 1000cad/month, and that it would violate other clauses (like one that says that the basement is limited to 2 occupants and that a pet would qualify as an occupant). Can they really charge me with this fee? Can a pet be considered an occupant?
    Also, now they are angry and want us to reimburse them for a damage in the cabinet (there was a leak in the faucet and we took 3 weeks to contact them -I thought it was coming from the trash bins so I kept wiping the cabinet floor until I found the damage in the sink pipe). Is it their responsibility or ours to pay for the replacement of the cabinet (they want to change it all even though it is a small damage)?
    They also said that I lit candles in several occasions inside the apartment (it is not allowed in the contract) and it is not true!
    I am also wondering that if they have any reason to evict me, would my friend be evicted too (since we signed the lease together)? I don't want to prejudice her since she has nothing to do with my pets.

    Thank you so much in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Raissa: A no pet clause is illegal under the RTA. The legislature in making no pet clauses illegal--hence giving tenants the right to have pets--did not proceed to make giant loopholes that would let a landlord accomplish the same thing as a no pet clause by calling the pet an "occupant" or by allowing a landlord to charge fees for pets. Your landlord's position respecting your pets is pure nonsense. Your landlord is not permitted to charge you for your pets nor can the landlord evict you for having an "occupant" in your unit. All of that being said, the right to have pets is not unconstrained. You are liable for damage that the pets cause and are required to treat them properly in accordance with law. Further, if your pets cause real allergic reactions or in some other way substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises this can be grounds for eviction. To be clear though, the substantial interference needs to be objectively reasonable and not just the ranting of a person or landlord who doesn't like animals.

      With respect to the damage in your unit. You are required to report maintenance problems and issues to your landlord. The failure to do so can be the basis of a claim for damage to the rental unit (and eviction in some cases). That being said, on the facts you provide I don't see that happening. It seems to me that when you became aware of the broken pipe you reported it. Your reaction, your assumptions, and how you dealt with what was there is not unreasonable. Given what I presume was a small amount of water that was not actively running I think your mistake as to the source of the water was a reasonable conclusion. Without seeing the cabinetry I can not really comment on whether replacing it or repairing it is more reasonable. In any event, even if you were liable (which I don't think you are--but that's just my opinion), your responsibility is not going to be for the full amount of the cost of replacement. Check other articles in this blog to see how "damage" and "repairs" are calculated.

      Prohibition on candles is not unusual as they do increase the risk of fire. As you are not using candles it will be impossible for the landlord to prove that you are. Even if you do light an occasional candle (which I don't recommend if there is a clause against it), the basis for eviction is going to have to be impaired safety and that will be a difficult one to prove. Serving a Notice of Termination for candles, using an N5--relying on lawful right interest or privilege or alternatively substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment--will be entirely contextual. The landlord would have to prove use of candles and then, I think still need to demonstrate some kind of associated risk with how the candles were used.

      With respect to eviction I should say this. Your landlord may serve you with a Notice of Termination and may file with the Board. Nothing can stop this if the landlord wants to try. Very likely though, these applications will not be successful. Just because you can "sue" doesn't mean you are going to win. Based on what you have described here I don't see the landlord having any success. What is unfortunate though is that your landlord seems to be looking for reasons to get you. You may, in time, feel like you're living under a microscope and that is no fun--especially in your home.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for your answer and opinion!

      Delete
  25. Hi Michael,
    Could you help me please?
    I rented an apartment a month ago in Toronto and asked the realtor specifically if there were any dogs in the adjoining apartments, just because I'd moved out of somewhere that had two dogs that didn't stop barking at all (ever!)
    She told me no, so I signed the lease but there is a dog upstairs, that pees off the balcony and it lands outside my window, so obviously I can't sit outside. This is gross but today there was also dog poop (sorry!)
    The leasing company said they would speak to them but it's still continuing. Can I break my lease over this?
    I should maybe mention my apartment is ground floor and doesn't have a balcony but the realtor told me I could use the space out side as though it were. (I don't know if this would make a difference or not).

    Really appreciate any advise!

    Thanks!

    Sandra

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra: The fact that you specifically inquired about the presence of animals in the building makes the answer to your question a little bit more difficult. But for your question about the presence of animals I would say that termination for this problem is unlikely. The landlord and tenant board would normally seek to preserve the tenancy and instead make orders that solve your problem instead. Only after trying all of these things would the Board be inclined to order termination (in my opinion). I should preface these comments of course with the fact that whether this is grounds for termination or not is rather subjective. It ultimately depends on the adjudicator. You could file a T2 application to the Board seeking termination as a remedy along with moving costs, utility costs--hook up and disconnection. Will the adjudicator grant the remedy? If its me deciding (which of course it isn't) I would grant your termination request if you could prove that you inquired about the presence of dogs in the building around you and at the time the dog was indeed in the unit and the rental agent knew about it or could have known about it on reasonable inquiry. It seems to me that you made the entry into the lease conditional upon certain circumstances being the case. The representation by the landlord/rental agent that there were no pets around your unit is a material misrepresentation and in my view sufficient to give you the remedy to rescind or terminate the lease (however the Board would structure it). Requiring you to remain in the unit while the landlord solves the upstairs tenants dog issue is not, in my view, satisfactory when you specifically sought to avoid dog related problems before entering into the lease. On the strength of that, and you proving the specific inquiry, I'd terminate your lease and indemnify you for moving expenses. However, I can't say for certain how your adjudicator would decide the matter.

      I will say, this is likely not one of those cases where you simply move and let the chips fall where they may. I think this is a get permission from the Board to terminate and move.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  26. Would a dog howling from 10pm through 4am considered "preventing quiet enjoyment?"

    Im at my wit's end, but don't want to waste mine or my landlords time writing a complaint if nothing can be done.

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    Replies
    1. Hi: Absolutely this is interference with quiet enjoyment. A complaint is worthwhile and hopefully your landlord will take it seriously. If a person does not control their dog it can be a basis for service of an N5 (Notice of Termination for Substantial Interference with Quiet Enjoyment). If still the problem is not corrected it can lead to a hearing and eviction.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. Thanks a bunch! I'll be dropping a letter off to the LL asap.

      Thanks again!

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  27. Hello Michael,
    My daughter and 3 friends are moving into a house to be shared between all of them, the add said 4-6 bedroom house 425 all inclusive. They get the place only now the price is 525 all inclusive and they have all paid last months rent and a 500.00 security deposit because no one told them that it was illegal to ask for it, I only know this because I was the last parent to sign the lease as her guarantor and wanted to read it over first. The person they found on orange list, I guess who works for the landlady now says the landlady wants another 500.00 pet deposit from my daughter because she has a cat. Told her that was illegal also, but this character from orange list, says it is legal because the landlady did $3000.00 in improvements in the house???? Can you answer these for me wether they are legal or not please and thank you!!

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    1. Hi: Can you confirm that this rental is in Ontario, Canada? I'm a bit concerned about what kind of tenancy is being created here. A rent of $425 or even $525 all inclusive for a house seems so low as to be unrealistic. Hence, I think it must be that it is $425 or $525 per room? Is there a lease for every room in the house?

      I'm trying to figure out if the landlord is creating a rooming house or if this is a single tenancy for the entire house. In a rooming house situation your daughter would only be responsible for her room and her own rent. In a single tenancy all of the roommates would be jointly and severally liable for the entire rent and for any damage to the rooms or common areas caused by any of the roommates or their guests.

      Note that as a guarantor you may also be acting as a guarantor for all of your daughter's roommates depending on how the lease is structured.

      Anyway, to your questions. It is not legal to demand a damage deposit under any circumstances--even if the landlord did renovations/improvements. The only legal deposit is a last month's rent deposit and the amount is limited to the amount of one month of rent. There are no exceptions.

      If your daughter is in possession and has already paid the deposit she can demand a refund or direct the landlord to apply the deposit to the rent. If the landlord does not refund the money she may get an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board. Alternatively, she might consider withholding rent and using applying the deposit to the rent for that month. If the landlord starts eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent your daughter would be able to argue the illegal deposit at the Board and the Board would indeed order a credit for the illegal deposits. Granted this will be a bit nerve racking. The last thing your daughter likely wants is a legal dispute with the landlord. However, if she is attending a university (just guessing) that has a law-school consider getting the student legal aid to assist her and represent her. Otherwise, local community legal clinics can also be helpful.

      Note that having the landlord--or the character from Orange List--make the assertion that the damage deposit is legally charged should be worrying. You are clearly signing up with a landlord who does not know the law and is clearly willing to make demands that do not comply with the Residential Tenancies Act. If the landlord is breaching the law already---what are the chances that this will be a happy tenancy?

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  28. hello Michael.
    I live in London Ontario and I have a couple of question on the animal control by-laws. I live in a townhouse with 2 other people, and we are apart of a large co-op. Now we already have 2 cats because they allow cats and dogs. But there is a size restriction on dogs in our lease that only allows "small" dogs . Well my question is - 1. legally are they allowed to have a size restriction like that? 2. where can I find information on the animal size restrictions in the tenancy act and 3. how would someone fight it?
    I am asking this because I would like to get a husky and when i mentioned it to the board members of the co-op they argued with me saying it was a large dog which is not allowed. (which there are i believe 3 tenants in the co-op that has a husky and 2 other types of large dog.) I want to try to do this properly without having to sneak the dog in and then using (76), which from what I understand is if I did sneak it in, they cant make me or the dog leave ...? Any advice???

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    1. Hi Horo:

      You mention a few times being a member of a co-op. While it is possible for a co-op to be a landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), it seems more likely to me that you are a member of the co-op. Your rights under the RTA are very limited as this is not the main legislation covering you. The most likely law that applies to your housing relationship with the co-op is the Co-operative Corporations Act. Unfortunately, if memory serves, I don't think you will find anything explicit in this statute about animal size restrictions. I think the way to look at it though is to see if the co-op itself has by-laws or rules respecting animal sizes. If these by-laws/rules are validly passed by the membership and form part of the co-op's governing documents then the rules are likely to be enforced by the Courts or the Landlord and Tenant Board.

      Note that the Landlord and Tenant Board has a limited jurisdiction over the termination of co-op memberships and housing rights--the Landlord and Tenant Board does not have a broader power over such co-op housing relationships as it does with regular landlord and tenant relationships.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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IMPORTANT NOTICE

Any answers provided are intended to reflect the Law of Ontario, Canada. The answers are not legal advice and no one should rely on the answers provided as legal advice. The answers are intended to be general information about Ontario Law and are the personal view of the author based on the limited facts provided to the author. The answers may not be legally accurate and may indeed be contrary to the law of Ontario. Answers and conclusions drawn may have been different if facts had been shared that have not been disclosed in the comment/question. This blog is intended to assist people in learning about Ontario Landlord and Tenant Law. However, if you have actual legal problems this blog should under no circumstances replace proper legal advice obtained by retaining a lawyer or licensed paralegal to advise you. Nothing in this blog, comments submitted or answers provided, gives rise to a solicitor and client relationship. Comments are published as submitted and commenters should be aware that if they identify themselves in a comment that their identity will become public upon the comment being published. Comments that have been published may be deleted upon request to the author.

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About Michael Thiele

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Ottawa lawyer and partner at Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP.  Graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.  Called to the bar in Ontario in 1997.  Undergraduate degree at Colby College, Waterville Maine, U.S.A.