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There is a lot of confusion about pets living in condominium buildings. So, we’re giving you the straight up goods on condo pet rules. Think of this as a mini resource guide for you and your furry friend, if you will. We love cats and dogs (and birds) around these parts. However, not all pets are welcome in everyone’s condominium lifestyle.
With Toronto’s Condo scene exploding, new buildings are going up every day and every building has a different set of rules for you and your pet. We want to make sure that you and your entire “pack” know what’s going down before you decide to move from Point A to Point B!
Most condominium corporations have rules, regulations and by-laws that residents must abide by. For the purpose of governance, these documents include information about everything and anything. This includes things like noise complaints, guest suite privileges, gym hours and visitor parking. Often, these rules and guidelines cover restrictions related to the keeping of pets in your condo suite. These restrictions usually include information about the type of domestic animal permitted, number of pets (usually between 1-2 per suite) and the size or weight class allowed. Generally, pets over 25-50 lbs. are not permitted, which often applies to many canines! So sadly, the big boys (my personal favourites) likely have a hard time finding a new home. The condo pet rules apply to condo residents equally, whether you are an owner or you are a tenant.
Here is a sample Pet Clause from a condo corporation in their rules and regulations. Note that the language of this clause will vary from building to building (as will the rules and restrictions). And, don’t forget, some buildings don’t have any restrictions at all!
No animals other than domestic pets, with a maximum weight of fifty pounds (50 lbs.) per pet shall be permitted. Domestic pets shall mean a maximum of 2 caged birds; aquarium fish; or a maximum of 2 domestic cats or dogs (or combination thereof), provided that where any such domestic pet becomes, in the Board’s sole determination, a nuisance and/or causes interference with the use and/or peaceful enjoyment by other owners of their Units and the common elements, the owner shall be required to remove such pet(s) upon two weeks’ prior written notice.
Pets must be carried or on a short leash in the common elements. Notwithstanding the generality of the foregoing, no dog considered by the Board or the property manager, in its sole discretion, to be an “attack dog”, shall be allowed in or on any Unit or the common elements. No breeding of animals shall be carried on, in or around any Unit or the common elements. An owner must not permit any pet to soil or damage the common elements in any way and any pet excrement must immediately be cleaned up by the owner. The Owner of any pet causing damage shall be liable for any clean up, removal of waste or repair costs incurred by the Corporation.
Now, there are some exceptions to “the rules” (there always are). It’s important to know that the Human Rights Code trumps the Condominium Act.
The Condominium Act, 1988 regulates most aspects of condo formation, purchasing and governance. Accordingly, the Act provides the guiding principles that govern condo documents. However, there are matters which fall under the Human Rights Code that outweigh the Act. This includes accommodation for those with disabilities. For example, individuals who require a seeing eye dog that is larger than the weight restriction. Regardless of the condo’s guidelines, service animals must be allowed. Of course, this makes sense to us – and, we’re super big supporters of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind!
Furthermore, it is a requirement that condo buildings regularly enforce their rules and regulations. If said rules are not enforced over a lengthy period of time, the condo resident may rely on “non-compliance” and assume that the pet restrictions are not enforced. In these types of situations, a condo corporation may have unintentionally waived its rights to enforce their pet rules due to their lack of enforcement over time. If this is the case, a court or mediator may permit the resident to keep their pet as the resident has relied on the condo’s lengthy period of “lack of enforcement”. Consequently, their pet is “grandfathered” into the building and will be permitted to stay! Phew!
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord cannot include a “no pet” clause in their leasing agreements. The only time this is allowable, is if the condo building rules stipulated no pets. On the other hand, a landlord has the right to refuse a tenant’s rental application if they have a pet. Until entering a rental agreement, there is no tenancy. And consequently, there is no protection for the applicant and their pet. In other words, a landlord can refuse to rent on the basis of having pets and the applicant cannot pursue a complaint. Without being a tenant yet, the applicant will not be able to claim an unfair opportunity with the Landlord and Tenant Board.
As a landlord, you cannot evict a tenant because you were not made aware of a pet. This is also the case if the pet came into the household after your tenant moves in. So, if a “no pets” clause is written into your Lease Agreement and you discover a pet, this does not provide grounds for tenant eviction.
However, you can evict a tenant if their pet is disruptive, damaging to the suite or considered dangerous to other residents. At this point, you still must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board. You’ll need to request an order to terminate the tenancy before forcing the tenant and their pet to vacate.
As a tenant, your potential landlord is not permitted to request a pet damage deposit. In fact, a landlord is can only request last month’s rent and a key deposit cheque in advance of tenancy. However, these deposits cannot be used as compensation for damages by a tenant or their pet. Your landlord can only use these deposits to cover unpaid rent or replace unreturned keys at the end of your lease.
The good news is, most buildings are becoming more and more pet friendly. We love this! Because we consider pets as great companions in many households. And as our city grows, we’re learning to accommodate all shapes and sizes in various living quarters (including condo buildings). Many new buildings, including purpose-rental options, are accommodating dogs and cats. We see offers for pet spa services, dog runs, urban dog parks and washing stations. Plus, the dog-walking community is getting big and better. There are so many great options to get your cuddly canine out there with a walker that knows the ins and outs of your building. Hey, there are even some concierge desks that give treats to all the pups walking by!
If you have questions about condo pet rules or want to find accommodations for you and your pet, please don’t hesitate to ask!
This article is written by Kori Marin, Managing Partner and Broker at Fox Marin Associates. With a passion for Scandinavian design and all-things-Toronto, Kori brings her own brand of charismatic energy, creative integrity, and expertise to her work.