Real Estate: Pet Restrictions in Condos

May 4, 2014
Posted in Real Estate
May 4, 2014 Asaini

As the number of condominiums in the city continues to grow, there has also been an increase in litigation with regards to the legality of pet restrictions in condos.

The bond between pet owners and their pets is undoubtedly sacred, as such, when a resident or potential homeowner is forced to choose between their pet or their home, the outcome is typically contentious. 

However, it is important to note that the topic of pet restrictions in condos is not only a concern for residents, but also the condo corporations that govern them.

Where does the law stand on this topic?

  • Subsections 58(1)(a) and (b) of the Condominium Act, 1998 (Ontario) allow a corporation to make rules to promote the safety, security or welfare of the unit owners and the property and assets of the corporation, or to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation.
  • In addition to the Condominium Act, the condo corporation is governed by its declaration, by-laws, and rules.
  • The Condominium Act and recent case law has illustrated that generally a provision restricting pet ownership in a declaration need not be reasonable; however, any such provisions/restrictions in the condo’s rules must be reasonable.

What residents should know:

  • Anyone who is leasing a unit in a residential complex, should be aware that any clause in your lease prohibiting pets is void, pursuant to Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (Ontario).
  • In Ontario, even if a condominium prohibits pets, service/therapy animals will be permitted for residents with a disability, as the Ontario Human Rights Code will prevail over the condo’s declaration, by-laws, and rules.
  • Recent case law has demonstrated that under certain circumstances it may be inequitable to enforce a condo’s pet restriction, even when it is present in the condo declaration.
    • For example, if a condo corporation was aware that a resident had a pet for years, and did not enforce the restriction consistently, and now wanted to enforce the restriction at a time when the pet was older and more difficult to place for adoption.
  • Prior to purchasing a condo or buying a pet, owners should consult with their lawyer to confirm the absence of pet restrictions in the condo’s declaration, by-laws, and rules. 

What condo corporations should know:

  • The Condominium Act authorizes condo corporations to protect all of its owners with respect to their safety and enjoyment of their units and common areas. As such, declarations and rules to restrict pets are allowed under the Condominium Act.
  • The Condominium Act also requires that any rules made by the corporation be reasonable and consistent with the condo’s declaration and by-laws. However, there is no reasonableness requirement for condo declarations. As such, it is not fully clear how far-reaching (or unreasonable) a condo’s declaration, with respect to pet restrictions, can be.
  • Whatever restrictions are in force, the condominium must be consistent in informing all owners of those provisions, and it must consistently enforce them.
    • Failure to do either of these things could result in the pet restrictions being unenforceable. 

If unit owners/residents and condominium corporations are able to proactively address the issues listed above, with the assistance of a legal professional, much time, energy and potential heartache can be avoided.

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained. 

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