When it comes to renters and pets in Ontario, there’s a great deal of misinformation out there which has clouded the facts and made it difficult to understand what the rules actually are. Ontario landlords can, in fact, refuse a tenant who they believe will move in with a pet. Once a tenant has signed a lease, however, an Ontario landlord cannot evict a tenant for simply owning and living with a pet.
However, this doesn’t mean that pet owners are suddenly immune to pet-related eviction. There are a number of legal reasons why a landlord might evict a pet owner from their property, including destruction to the property or disruption to neighbours or other tenants. Here’s how Toronto landlords can legally handle problems with pets and pet-owning tenants.
Can tenants in Ontario have pets?
Yes, tenants in Ontario can legally have pets once they’ve signed a rental agreement. If a landlord suspects a tenant will bring pets in their unit, they can legally choose to not rent to that person, but landlords have no recourse once the agreement has been made. Many landlords will typically ask about pets in their screening process, with some writing in a “no pets” clause into their agreement.
Once a tenant has signed an agreement, this clause generally loses all legitimacy, as even if a renter decides to bring a pet into the property, Ontario landlords can’t evict them simply for owning a pet. Toronto landlords are also not legally allowed to charge a pet deposit, despite some landlords doing so regularly. The only deposits a landlord can legally ask for is the last month’s rent and a returnable key deposit.
The rules regarding pet ownership are different for condominiums. If a regulation has been created in regards to pet ownership, everybody who signs the condo agreement must strictly adhere to the regulations. If these rules say pet ownership is not allowed, then eviction can take place at the discretion of the condo board, or a fine can be levied.
Under what circumstances can tenants be evicted for having pets?
Despite the rules being easily accessible to anybody, a popular misconception exists which states that pet owners can’t be evicted for having a pet. It’s important to understand that pet-owning tenants aren’t immune to eviction. If a pet is found to be destructive to the property (in ways which are well above mere cosmetic damage), or disruptive to neighbours or other tenants, landlords are within their legal rights to evict a tenant if a solution cannot be found.
Landlords can also evict pet owners if the number of pets they own is in contravention to local municipal bylaws or if the animal in question is dangerous or an illegal breed. Tenants who don’t clean up after their pets can also be legally evicted in Ontario, as this can lead to property damage or can interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of other tenants.
How landlords should handle problem pets
As with anything, landlords should take care to exercise every option before jumping to eviction. If a situation with a problem pet emerges, it’s recommended that landlords work with the tenant in question to solve the problem. If the problem cannot be solved or if tenants do not cooperate, then eviction might be the recommended course of action. Any attempts to solve the problem or any interactions in which the problem pet is discussed or solutions suggested should be documented by landlords as proof that they attempted to mediate the problem and that these attempts failed.
Landlords can legally evict tenants with pets which have caused destruction to the property (things like holes in the walls, extensive damage to carpet or flooring, etc.), disruptions to neighbours and other renters, failure to clean up after pets, failure to comply with municipal bylaws which limit the amount of pets people can own, or if the pet is proven to be dangerous or otherwise illegal.
Document the damage done to your property, any complaints from neighbours or other tenants and your attempts to solve the problem and include them with your filing at the Landlord and Tenant Board. With proper documentation and careful handling of the situation, the LTB will recognize that you have done your due diligence as a landlord and will be more likely to side with you in any potential dispute regarding the eviction of a problematic pet owner.
Being faced with a problem pet isn’t an enviable situation to be in, even for the most seasoned landlords. This is why it’s so important to enlist the services of an experienced Toronto property manager. Property management companies understand what to look for when it comes to tenant screening and can flag any potential problems so you aren’t faced with an ugly and time consuming dispute with pet owning tenants.
HighGate Properties is a leading provider of Toronto property management services, specializing in both commercial and residential property management. Our talented team will handle things like tenant screening, maintenance and repairs, and other time consuming aspects of being a landlord so you can tend to the people and things that matter most to you. To find out more about the property management services offered by HighGate, get in touch with our team today.