Monday, 28 September 2015

Dog Poop and the tenant who won't scoop.

I've given up thinking that there are some things in life that are so obvious that everyone inherently understands and knows the right and the wrong way to think about the thing.   As it turns out, dog poop is one of those things that not everyone agrees about.  There are some pet owners who for some reason or no reason at all think that they don't have to pick up after their pet.  These pet owners are quite content to let their dog do its business wherever and whenever the mood strikes and simply abandon the pile wherever it lies.  Fortunately, from the perspective of many, the law does not support these pet owners.

I think that people know that in most cities and towns that the municipal government has passed by-laws requiring pet owners to stoop and scoop.  What is interesting is that the stoop and scoop bylaws are a little broader and slightly more complicated than simply requiring a dog owner to pick up a dog's waste.  For example, let's take a look at the City of Ottawa by-law provisions respecting stooping and scooping.  Starting at section 37 of the Animal Care and Control By-Law No. 2003-77


STOOP AND SCOOP
37Every owner of a dog shall immediately remove any feces left by the dog in the City:
  (a)on a highway or roadway,
  (b)in a public park,
  (c)on any public property other than a public park, or
  (d)on any private property other than the property of,
   (i)the owner of the dog, or
   (ii)the person having care, custody or control of the dog.
38Every owner of a dog shall dispose of any feces removed pursuant to Section 37 on his or her premises.
39Every owner of a dog shall remove from his or her premises, in a timely manner, feces left by such dog, so as not to disturb the enjoyment, comfort, convenience of any person in the vicinity of the premises.

You can see that the by-law provides more direction than simply stoop and scoop.  A dog owner is required not only to stoop and scoop on a highway, roadway, public park, public property, but ALSO on the private property of any person other than the owner of the dog.    

Also interesting is that the by-law requires dog owners to dispose of dog waste that is stooped and scooped on their own premises.  This means not putting the waste in a regular garbage can but instead taking the poop home and disposing of it.  Furthermore, the owners of dogs even on their own property are required to remove dog fees so as to ensure that the enjoyment, comfort, convenience of any person in the vicinity of the premises is not disturbed.  On this point, the By-law has other sections dealing with keeping animals in sanitary conditions.

TENANT'S AND DOG WASTE

The question I get from time to time is what can be done about tenants who do not pick up after their dog.   A recent inquiry was about a tenant who thought picking up after his dog "every time" was overkill.  The fact is that the by-law leaves no room for not picking up dog waste (disabilities and service dogs excepted).   Tenants must pick up their dog's poop or risk being in violation of the By-Law.

Aside from a By-Law violation, a Landlord may also find authority in the Residential Tenancies Act to force a tenant to pick up their dog's poop.  A Landlord may serve a Form N5 Notice of Termination.  The details section on that form should include the details about the failure to stoop and scoop and it may make reference to the violation of the applicable local by-law.  Further, the N5 can, and should, make reference to the impact that the failure to stoop and scoop has on other tenants and the landlord.    The presence of feces around the yard and on the property presumably is unpleasant, smells, and makes it difficult to enjoy a yard or other common areas if the area is covered in Dog waste.  How this impacts on the landlord or tenants is important to explain as the Board will consider how serious the violation is and whether eviction is necessary.  Dog waste that smells to the extent of preventing windows from being opened, abandoned waste that is near walkways and is stepped in regularly, or the voluminous presence of dog waste making the use of a backyard, garden or sitting area impossible certainly qualifies as a substantial interference with the reasonable enjoyment of the property by the landlord or other tenants.  For this a tenant can be evicted.   The N5 is all about substantial interference so it is important to highlight how the offending conduct is a "substantial interference".

The Landlord and Tenant Board may give a tenant who hasn't scooped a second chance.  However, as a landlord it is reasonable to expect that the Board will also impose a condition on the tenant that he/she always clean up after their dog failing which the tenant can be evicted under section 78 of the Residential Tenancies Act.

Requiring a tenant to clean up after their dog, every single time, and in the winter, is not unreasonable.  In fact, failing to clean up after one's dog is illegal and it can get a tenant evicted.

Michael K. E. Thiele
www.ottawalawyers.com

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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.