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Pet Eviction: A Tenant Does Not Have More Rights Than an Owner

Caramael and Bruce Mtl 26Apr09

The Residential and Tenancies Act, 2006 is the legislation presently applying to landlords and tenants.  It provides that “[a] provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.” Consequently, a landlord cannot prevent a tenant from having a pet. However, what does that mean for condominium corporations? Can a board of directors have a tenant’s pet evicted if it is found to be a nuisance? The short answer is yes.

There are numerous court cases on the interactions between the Condominium Act and the Residential Tenancies Act. On one hand, the Residential Tenancies Act applies as between the landlord (presumably the owner of the condominium unit) and the tenant (presumably the person occupying the unit). On the other hand, the Condominium Act applies as between the condominium corporation, the unit owners and the occupiers of the units.

While the Residential Tenancies Act specifically prevents the prohibition of pets in a residential lease, this legislation does not supersede the Condominium Act. If a condominium’s governing documents has a blanket prohibition against pets or if it prohibits a specific pet-related behavior, then such restrictions must apply equally to both owners and tenants.

In other words, a tenant’s cat cannot have more rights than an owner’s dog.

Pursuant to section 119 of the Condominium Act, 1998, both owners and occupiers of a unit must comply with the Condominium Act as well as the corporation’s declaration, by-laws and rules. If an owner or a tenant does not comply with any of the corporation’s governing documents, the corporation (or another unit owner or occupier of a unit) can make an application to the Superior Court of Justice for an order enforcing compliance.  This is done under section 134 of the Condominium Act, 1998.

If a board of directors relies on the corporation’s declaration to deem a pet a nuisance, the corporation has the authority to have the pet evicted, whether the pet belongs to an owner, a tenant or even to a visitor. They are numerous cases out there were a corporation has brought an application as against a tenant (as opposed to as against the owner) to enforce compliance, whether the restriction is pet-related or otherwise. Niagara North Condominium Corporation No. 125 v. Kinslow is one of those many cases where courts have confirmed their ability and willingness to evict a tenant’s pet when the governing documents prevented them. In this case, the tenancy agreement was silent as to the question of pets, but the condominium’s declaration and rules contained a no-pets prohibition.

The take-away for tenants who intend on renting a condominium unit is to review the condominium’s governing documents to ensure they comply with them. The take-away for owners wishing to rent their unit is to ensure that they convey to their tenants-to-be what is expected of them and of their pets.

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