Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent A Unit to Me Just Because I Have a Cat?

A Ban On Pets Is Generally Unlawful. A Lease Clause Purporting As a Pet Ban Is Void. However, In Very Specific Situations a Pet Ban May Be Legal.

Notice to Evict for renovations document

It is somewhat common that a lease will contain a 'no pets' clause; however, as per section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O.  2006, Chapter 17 (the "RTA"), any such provision within a lease agreement is void despite the agreement established between the landlord and tenant; and accordingly, such a clause is unenforceable.  Specifically, the RTA states:

“No pet” Provisions Void

14 A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.

Exceptions

As with most rules, there are exceptions.  In respect of where a landlord is, generally per s. 14 of the RTA, forbidden from banning a tenant from having pets, s. 76 of the RTA provides the exceptions whereas it is said:

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.

As per the above exception rules, a pet may be banned if the pet is demonstrated as causing damage to property or causing disruption and interference to others living within the residential complex.  Furthermore, where a law, such as a municipal bylaw, or other legal mandate explicitly permits the banning of pets, or where the tenancy is within a condominium corporation that restricts pet ownership as stated within the Condominium Declarations a landlord may be able to ban a pet.

Summary Comment

Generally, where a tenancy is governed by the RTA and a lease clause purports as a pet ban, such a clause is void and unenforceable. Some exceptions do exist. The possible exceptions include specific situations where a pet is shown as posing a safety risks such as a demonstrably dangerous dog, or where the pet is shown as substantially disruptive to others due to prolonged excessive barking or other interference to the living conditions and reasonable enjoyment of others. Allergy issues may also be a genuine concern. To obtain an Order granting an exception, a landlord must apply to the Landlord Tenant Board.

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