No Pet Polices When Renting Apartments

I can’t stand no pet policies. These policies actually drive me crazy.

I want to be clear that I understand the point. I used to have neighbours who’s stupid, tiny dogs were the most annoying dogs imaginable (they never stopped yapping!). Not that I really cared at the end of the day, but I can understand why a less tolerant person would be driven beserk by that and that it might just be easier to say “no pets”, rather than rely on good faith and a long list of conditions of what pets are ok. Not to mention that there is a whole host of other annoying pet habits; I know other people who’s dogs have eaten dry wall by literally somehow biting into a flat wall, cause that makes sense. I know some cats who will literally pee all over the place, well, just because they can. I get it, sometimes some peoples animals are dreadful… But maybe we don’t need to punish ever pet owner because of a few bad seeds.

For the most part I think that peoples animals are typically well behaved enough that they should get to have a home. Recently, I had a response from a landlord saying “no, a pet is a pet” (when inquiring if there were exceptions). No, a pet is certainly NOT a pet! A gold fish in a small tank is not the same thing as a massive, slobbering St. Bernard. I would really rather that landlords at least not pretend like all pets are the exact same because who ever heard of a gold fish being a menace to society.

I like conditions; behaviours or tendencies can easily be corrected. An unspayed animal might spray all over the place, so just insist that the animals are spayed if potential renters have pets. Or say that all animals must be housebroken. Or that animals which are found to be disruptive will have to be removed.

And seriously, who’s going to get allergies through a ceiling or a wall? I’ve heard that thrown around as a reason to not let pets in a rented place before. Let’s be real here. I would like to know where the scientifically proven data is that proves that is even possible. Plus, the ventilation between apartments should be sealed off for safety reasons (or at least I’d imagine that’s how building codes work, I don’t know the fine lines). I could understand concerns about animal hair and dandruff escaping into a hall through a door, but that’s not going to happen in a townhouse where the doors are typically to the outside. Also, pet fur can get trapped in the carpet and such, so yes, I would think it to be reasonable to ask tenants to get the carpets cleaned (and insert other relevant cleaning things) before moving out as a preventative measure, especially if the landlord foots the bill.

There is very little I can do about this no pet policy rule though. I am not going to do dump my two beautiful, sweet cats at the pound just because someone has decided that all animals are evil. However, their existence makes it incredibly hard to find a nice, affordable home. Many homes that allow pets tend to be really gross or really expensive; the middle ground is unattainable where I live, or so it seems.

The No Pet Policies seemed ridiculous to me, so I ran a search to see if it is even a valid rental clause. Why are people even allowed to make these clauses? Can I fight it? Is there any point to fighting it if you’re just going to get off on the wrong foot with a potential landlord? If animals are supposedly so bad when it comes to rentals, why don’t they just say no 100% of the time? Doesn’t that just mean the people who say no don’t like animals? Why isn’t it discrimination?

Is the No Pet Policy legal?

According to the information out there, a landlord may refuse to rent to someone with a pet. However, he or she may not kick you out if you move in with a pet any how. A “no pet” clause in a rental agreement is void, according to a 2006 change in the landlord and tenant act.

Is it discriminatory? 

No, because pet ownership is not covered by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. However, in cases of disabilities, it is covered. If you have a service animal (e.g. a guide dog because you are blind) then you may qualify for an exemption because for them not to allow the dog could be considered discriminating against you.

Can they ask for a deposit to fix any damages?

According to this article, no they cannot. It isn’t even legal to do that. If your pet damages something, you have to fix it on a case by case basis. That’s pretty straightforward, I would do the same if I was the one to damage something, so obviously I would take responsibility for what ever nonsense my pet got up to (not that they would).

The problem?

A landlord can refuse to rent to you if you have a pet. However, it is illegal for them to kick you out if you have a pet and a no pet clause in a rental agreement is void. So basically you could lie and not mention a pet. You could say “nope, no cats”, and move in the next day with 4 of them. In fact, you can have 2 dogs and 4 cats to a household in most urban areas (consult your specific bylaws before committing to that number). However, lying isn’t really a good way to have a positive relationship with your landlord and they might try to find another way to get rid of you or your pet. Finally, if you are moving into a condo, the actual condo board might be the problem, not your landlord, in which case you might want to ask your potential landlord for clarification about whose rule it is. While your landlord cannot do anything about you, a condo board might have a different level of authority, so before you try to sneak in Fido or Little Kitty Cat, make sure you are clear about who has what legal authority and power.

What would I do at the end of the day?

Honestly, first things first, I would find someone who doesn’t have a problem with animals. This seriously sucks for people such as my self who have pets, but it isn’t worth the drama it could cause with a landlord.

Alternately, I would offer to obtain letters of reference from previous landlords that would verify that my pets never damaged anything and/or that I repaired or cleaned anything that they damaged or soiled. If the landlord refuses to bend, then I would keep looking.

I would never, under any circumstances, give up my animals for a frustrating rule. There are plenty of places that allow animals. I choose to take on my cats while knowing that this was something I would have to deal with. Even if I had not known, I would never get rid of a pet because of the “inconvenience” of a no pet policy. At the end of the day, it’s not my cats fault and I won’t make it their fault by getting rid of them.

Sources 

Is “No Pets Allowed” Allowed? by Amanda Factor at the Torontoist – http://torontoist.com/2009/06/no_pets_allowed/

Why No-Pet Rental Clauses Lack Teeth by Mark Weidleder at The Sun – http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2012/12/07/why_nopet_rental_clauses_lack_teeth.html

Ontario Tenants Most Asked Questions and Answers – http://www.ontariotenants.ca/law/act02.phtml#RTA14

Residential Tenancies Act Part II – http://www.ontariotenants.ca/law/act02.phtml#RTA14

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