What’s the deal with tenant laws regarding pets?

Tenants have pets without permission? There is a sheepdog sized misconception about pets and renting in Ontario. Let’s see if we can groom out the details and clarify the terms surrounding fluffy and snowball and your rights as a landlord. To begin, separate your timeline into “before the lease is signed”, and “after the lease is signed”. The lease is the key here. Before a lease is signed, you, as a landlord, are within the law to refuse to rent your property to a particular applicant based on the fact that they have a pet. This is because having a pet is not a protected status under the Human Rights Code. (service animals are a different breed, if you will)

The Human Rights Code states that 1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability. Read: pets are not mentioned. This means that it is not a violation of the Human rights of your applicant to refuse to enter into a tenancy based on the fact that they have a pet.

If you do rent to an applicant, meaning money is exchanged for keys and occupancy, you are now leashed by tenant laws regarding pets. The Residential Tenancies Act DOES prohibit you from terminating a tenancy because your tenant has a pet, despite your landlord pet policy. Even a big one. Even two or three or as many as the local bylaws allow.

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