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Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because I have a pet?
Clear language definitions to common legal terms.
A landlord is allowed to ask if you have pets when you move in. They are also allowed to deny your rental application because you have pets.
But, after you move in, your landlord cannot evict you just for having a pet, even if your rental agreement has a "no‑pets" clause. In Ontario, no‑pets clauses in rental agreements are void. This means they cannot be enforced.
A landlord might be able to make you get rid of your pet if your pet:
- makes unreasonable amounts of noise
- causes a severe allergic reaction
- is dangerous
- causes damage
- is not allowed because of condominium by-laws or local city by-laws
Find out if the building can restrict pets
Most rental buildings cannot stop tenants from having pets. But for some types of buildings, there are different rules.
Condominiums can be any type of housing from a high-rise tower to a townhouse. If you are not sure if your building is a condominium, ask the building's management or superintendent.
Condominiums can make their own rules about pets. This can include:
- if pets are allowed at all
- the number of pets
- the type of animal
- the size of the animal
- if visiting pets are allowed
If a condominium has a pet policy, the condominium corporation is supposed to enforce the rules fairly and quickly. They must use the rules the same way for all tenants and unit owners.
A condominium can change their policy about pets. However, if the policy becomes more restrictive, the condominium cannot remove the pets that were living in the building before the policy was changed.
For example, if a condominium used to allow two dogs and now only allows one, any tenants who already live in the building and have two dogs can keep their dogs. But new tenants will only be allowed to have one dog.
Tenants must follow the rules whether they are renting from an owner or renting from the building management. Find out the condominium's pet policy before moving in.
Homes where you share a kitchen or bathroom with your landlord
If you have to share a bathroom or kitchen with your landlord or their close family and they live in the same building as you, you are not protected by the Residential Tenancies Act at all.
That means your landlord can make and enforce any rules they want. It also means they can evict you just by giving you reasonable notice. They do not have to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order, and they do not need a reason.
If you are living in a place like that, it is up to you to negotiate about your pets with your landlord. The law does not give you any rights except what is in your rental agreement.
Try to get the landlord to change their mind
If the landlord is concerned that your pet will cause problems, you can show them that your pet will not be any trouble. You can:
- get references (for example, a letter from a previous landlord saying that your pet was not a nuisance in the past, or from a vet saying that you are a responsible owner)
- take pictures of your current place to show that your home is clean and undamaged
- explain to your landlord how you will take care of your pet (for example, that you have a dog walker for daily walks)
- prove that you have the proper licenses for your pet
- let the landlord meet your pet
Find out if your landlord might be able to evict you because of your pet
In most rental housing, the only way the landlord can force you to move out or get rid of your pet is by applying to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
The Board should not evict you simply because your rental agreement says you can't have a pet. But the Board might decide to evict you if:
- your pet is a danger to other tenants or to the landlord
- you are breaking local bylaws about pets
- your pet is seriously interfering with other people's enjoyment of their property
- someone living in the building has a severe allergy to your pet
- your pet causes damage to the property
- you fail to take care of your pet properly
For example, you could get evicted if you have a cat that scratches a neighbour, or a dog who barks for long periods of time every day.
You could be evicted if you fail to take care of your pet and this causes problems for other tenants or for the landlord. This can include not picking up after your dog.
You could be evicted if you do not follow local bylaws about pets. This can include:
- having more pets than allowed
- having a type of animal that is not allowed
- not having the required licenses for your pet
Provincial laws or local bylaws might ban or limit certain animals. For example, some exotic animals, and dog breeds like pit bulls.
Your landlord or the Landlord and Tenant Board might also give you the choice to get rid of your pet instead of moving out.
Be a responsible pet owner
You can avoid problems with your landlord and other tenants if you take proper care of your pet. You should always:
- pick up pet droppings
- keep your pet's living areas clean
- keep your pet from damaging the apartment
- keep your pet from making unnecessary noise
- train your pet to have good behavior
- make sure your pet is not dangerous to others
- keep your pet on a leash in common areas
- fix any damage that your pet caused in your home, like stains, chew marks, or holes