Can Toronto landlords really say "no pets allowed"?

Mar 3 2021, 9:02 pm

So you’ve found a Toronto apartment that you’d love to move into, but there’s just one problem: the landlord has included a “no pets” clause in the lease.

If you have an animal companion that you’re hoping to bring to your new place, this can feel like a devastating blow, but don’t worry. There’s still a chance you can get the unit.

Every Toronto landlord is subject to Ontario housing laws, which state that “no pets” clauses in rental agreements are not valid and therefore cannot be enforced. There are, however, a few notable exceptions as well as a few important things that any renter with a pet should know.

Rahim Khalifa, a Zoocasa agent in Toronto, shared with Daily Hive the ins and outs of navigating the rental market as a pet owner.

Can prospective Toronto landlords ask you if you have a pet?

In short, yes. Landlords are allowed to and will often ask either verbally or in writing if you have a pet.

“Regardless of whether a home or apartment is rented through a brokerage or privately, completing a rental application is required and usually the question of pets is included within this application,” Khalifa said.

Are there any circumstances where Toronto landlords can ban pets?

Although a Toronto landlord for the most part cannot enforce a “no pets” clause, there are a few important exceptions to note where they can, in fact, forbid you from having your pet in the rental.

The first is if the rental is inside a condo building that has its own rules for the entire building prohibiting pets.

“It is also important to note that each condominium will be different and may not allow pets or may have specific provisions around what is allowed and what is not when it comes to pets,” Khalifa said. “There may be limits on the weight of a pet or the number of pets allowed.”

Another exception can occur where the landlord can decline your application if either the owner or another resident that resides in the same accommodation have a pet-related allergy.

Can Toronto landlords evict you for having a pet?

Unless you live in a rental that falls under either the condo or allergy exception, “once a lease is signed, a landlord cannot evict you simply for having a pet,” Khalifa said.

If your pet becomes a nuisance, however, it can give the landlord grounds to evict you.

“Quiet enjoyment is a concept which is important to tenants and all other residents of a building or home and should the pet become a nuisance and start causing noise, damage, harm, or an allergic reaction in other residents, then the landlord may then have grounds for going to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an eviction order,” Khalifa said.

Can Toronto landlords ask for a pet deposit?

No, in Toronto your landlord is not allowed to ask for a pet deposit; however, Khalifa says it doesn’t stop some landlords from trying.

“I see it all the time in the landlord’s schedule of terms section on a lease agreement,” Khalifa said. “The Residential Tenancy Agreement (Standard Form of Lease) clearly spells out that the only deposit that can be charged to a tenant is last month’s rent and a reasonable amount for a refundable key deposit.

“It goes on to say that pet or damage deposits or any other deposits over and above are in violation of the rules and a tenant can therefore go to the LTB to seek an order to have any such deposits returned if they were charged by a landlord.”

How should pet-owners approach renting in Toronto?

Khalifa has a few tips for any pet owners looking to rent a new space that will help make the process a bit easier. First, he says, it’s important that every renter know their rights.

“If in doubt about anything, seek advice from a licensed realtor, a paralegal, or a lawyer as necessary,” Khalifa said.

He also recommends that renters be honest, saying, “Let a landlord know you have a pet up front, share a photo, and any relevant veterinarian records to educate the landlord or their representative.”

Khalifa also suggests obtaining a reference from your current landlord to prove that you’re responsible and the pet won’t cause any damage.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to rent your next unit for you and your furry friend relatively hassle-free.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

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