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Renting with pets in Ontario

This article summarizes some key laws related to living with pets in residential units in the province of Ontario. We’ve used the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act and other publicly available legal resources to research this article. This article is only intended as an information resource and is not a substitute for qualified legal advice. Rental laws are always changing and you are responsible for performing your own research into the laws that apply to your unique situation. If you have legal questions or concerns, please contact a lawyer who specializes in rental laws in Ontario.

Pets and the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act

The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act explicitly outlines the law regarding pets. And if you’re an animal-loving tenant in Ontario you’re in luck as it is one of the most pet-friendly places to rent an apartment in Canada.

Can landlords refuse to rent to people with pets in Ontario?

Yes. Ontario landlords can refuse to rent to tenants with pets. Ontario’s pet protections apply only to tenants. Until a person enters into a rental agreement, there is no tenancy and pet-owners have no protection. Owning a pet is not a human right.

The only exception is if a tenant requires a service dog due to a disability. This requirement is based on federal and provincial human rights legislation that prohibits discriminating against a person with a disability.

Can landlords refuse to rent to people with emotional support animals in Ontario?

The legal status of emotional support animals is not totally clear in Ontario. This article provides an excellent summary of service animal definitions and recent legal challenges in Ontario.

Can landlords include a no pets clause in the rental lease in Ontario?

No. Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act does not permit landlords to include “no pet” clauses in rental agreements. The only exception is if the rental property is a condominium and the condominium corporation’s declaration prohibits pets. Ontario has a standard rental lease that can be found here.

Can condo corporations ban or restrict pets in Ontario?

Yes. If the condominium corporations’ governing documents prohibit keeping pets in a unit, that rule is enforceable by law under the Ontario Condominium Act of 1998. The condo board is also entitled to restrict the types of pets, number of animals and the size of the animals that may be kept in a condo unit. Tenants are bound by these bylaws regardless of whether their landlord allows pets, and the condo board has the power to fine or evict tenants for disobeying them.

In Ontario, there have been some interesting challenges to no-pet policies. In one case in Toronto, the condominium corporation prohibited pets, but a Judge decided this was unenforceable because the condo corporation had failed to enforce the policy for about ten years even though they there was a cat living there. Permission to enforce the no-pet policy was denied because of the length of time the cat had been allowed to remain, and the pet-owner’s attachment to the cat, as well as the age of the cat.

Can you be evicted for getting a pet in Ontario?

No. In Ontario, you cannot be evicted for having a pet once you have moved in, unless you live in a condo with a no pet policy. This applies regardless of whether the landlord was aware of the pet when the tenant moved in.

Can landlords charge a pet deposit in Ontario?

No. In Ontario, landlords cannot require or request a pet deposit, but they can accept one if the tenant offers. Vouching for your pet in this way is attractive to landlords as it means you have an incentive to look after the place. If you chose to go this route, make sure you get a receipt and specify the conditions of return (e.g. does it cover the cost of carpet cleaning when you move out or is it only to be used if Rover rips a wall out?) It is also a good idea to sign a statement about the condition of the rental unit or email the landlord pictures of any pre-existing damages on move-in day so that you have proof of damage that’s not yours.

Can landlords charge pet rent in Ontario?

No, not in addition to the base rental amount. However, landlords are free to set the rent price when a new tenant moves in and may implicitly account for a pet’s presence.

Can renters lie about whether they own a pet in Ontario?

Ontario pet owners face a unique dilemma when speaking with potential landlords. If they’re honest about having a pet, their application can be refused. If they lie, there is nothing the landlord can do once they move in, but this doesn’t make for a great start to the tenant-landlord relationship.

Can tenants in Ontario be evicted if their dog barks too much?

Yes. Under the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, every tenant has the right to enjoy living in their property free from significant disturbance from other tenants and the landlord. If a tenant’s dog’s barking is bothering the other tenants, your landlord can evict you.

Can tenants temporarily pet sit in Ontario even if no pets are allowed?

Yes. As with owning a pet on a full-time basis in Ontario you cannot be evicted for pet-sitting temporarily, unless you live in a condo with a no pet policy in the declaration.