My lease says no pets: what are the rules?

By Realestate Condos Team on January 25th, 2019

Renting in a popular city is already a struggle; what with rising rents, unit competition, and rental resumes.

What if you have a roommate or two, plus a roommate with four legs?

Today we’ll go over what the law says about lease agreements and pets, if landlords can refuse to rent to pet owners, and what pet owners can do to make themselves appear more rentable.

Can landlords refuse to rent to me?

If you haven't signed a lease or are just viewing the rental and the landlord discovers you have a pet, either by honest admission or otherwise, they are allowed to discriminate if they do not wish to have an animal on the premises. 

Surely, this seems unfair to any pet owner since discrimination in any form is still discrimination, but a 'no pets policy' in place before a lease is signed is completely valid and legal. Pets are not covered under the Human Rights Code.

Landlords are able to cite allergic sensitivities in the building as a reason for not wanting pets on the property. 

But what does the law say?

This all changes once you’ve signed a lease.

Contrary to any warnings given by a landlord, they cannot evict you based on a pet – the threat, essentially, has no legal hind legs to stand on.

A 'no pets' clause in any Ontario lease is void.

Even if you sign one that explicitly stipulates against pets, you cannot be evicted by bringing one in.

It should be noted, however, in the event your pet starts or eventually causes damage to your landlord’s property, begins disturbing the peace or promotes an allergic reaction and thus impacts your neighbours' reasonable enjoyment of their units, your landlord will have more of a case to evict you. Condo or renters insurance will not cover damage caused by pets.

Service animals are protected under the Human Rights Code – it’s illegal to discriminate against someone with accessibility or disability needs.

Make yourself an attractive renter

Bringing in a pet you already have will be tricky if landlords are not interested in renting to pet owners.

What you can do is make yourself an attractive pet owner by bringing references from past landlords on day one. If you know your dog hasn't caused any trouble in the past, get your past landlords to confirm these details to your new ones. 

Any responsible landlord will look into your past tenancies to see if you're a responsible renter and a responsible pet owner.