Following on the heels of Heenan Blaikie’s condominium group’s recent seminar “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs”, the Toronto Star has weighed in on the always controversial issue of no-pet clauses in leases:

Under the law, you can’t prevent a tenant from bringing a pet into your property, unless it is a condominium and the building declaration says no pets. So even if a landlord and tenant sign a lease that says no pets, the tenant can bring 2 dogs and 4 cats the next day and there is nothing the landlord can do about it.

Yet if the landlord has a no pet policy in the entire building, they can probably refuse to approve the tenant in the first place if they know the tenant has a pet.

Tenants are governed by the same rules and restrictions as owners. As the Star notes, if a condominium corporation’s Declaration bans pets, an owner can ban tenants from having a pet in their rental unit. A condominium corporation’s Declaration is the equivalent of its constitution, and does not have to be reasonable.

However, the vast majority of Declarations do not contain provisions banning pets. As a result, many condominium corporations have passed rules restricting pet ownership. Like all rules, though, rules regarding pets must be reasonable. In practice, this means that a blanket “no pets” rule is unlikely to be upheld by the courts. Instead, condominium corporations should consider more reasonable rules such as only one pet per unit, or only pets that weigh less than 25 kilograms.

While tenants are subject to the condominium corporation’s rules, landlords cannot enforce additional rules regarding pets. If a condominium corporation’s rules allow one small pet, an owner cannot evict a tenant who has a cat – even if the lease purports to prohibit any pets!

For more information on this fur-raising issue, read Heenan Blaikie’s guide to pet restrictions in condominiums, or watch “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs”.