After a long day at work, you might think it would be nice to be greeted at the door by a wagging tail and enthusiastic licks from a stalwart companion. Or to look up as you’re leaving for the day and see your feline friend watching you leave from the window. Before choosing to get a pet, however, tenants need to make sure that they know their rights under the law, if they have any at all.
1. What does the law in your province say about renting with pets?
Each province has their own law that applies to landlords and tenants who live there. That means that the law changes from province to province. Some laws state that the tenant is allowed to have a pet in the rental property, and some laws leave it up to the landlord to decide whether or not pets will be allowed. Also, some provinces allow landlords to charge the tenant a pet fee or pet rent in order to have a pet on the property. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has developed tipsheets that provide basic information about renting in each province and can act as a good starting point to find out about the law.
FAQ: Can I get an emotional support animal even though my landlord says no pets are allowed?
If a tenant has a qualified service dog, then the landlord must accommodate the tenant’s disability up to the point of undue hardship. This means that the landlord usually cannot refuse to rent to someone who has a service dog. You can find out more about human rights and accommodation by contacting your provincial human rights office. This website has a list of the human rights organizations in each province.
2. What does your lease say?
If the law in your province is silent on the issue of pets, or states that the landlord can choose whether or not to allow pets in the rental property, then you should look at your lease. The lease is the contract that you entered into with the landlord, and usually will state whether or not you can have a pet. You can also choose to talk to your landlord to see if the landlord is agreeable to having pets in the rental property. If you and your landlord can come up with an agreement about pets, then you should put this agreement in writing. You can take a look at a sample pet agreement.
3. What kind of property do you rent, and does the property have special laws about pets?
Certain kinds of property come with additional legal obligations. For example, if you rent a condominium unit, then you are bound to follow the renting law in your province as well as the condominium law in your province. Most condominiums will have extra rules that the tenant must follow, and if the tenant does not obey these rules, then the condominium board can evict the tenant. This means that if, for example, a condominium building does not allow pets in the building, and the tenant brings in a pet, then the condominium board could take action against the tenant. The penalties for infringing the rules vary from condominium to condominium.
FAQ – The lease says that no pets are allowed. Is this legal?
The first step to being a responsible pet owner is getting informed before you purchase a pet. If you get a pet first, assuming that your landlord will allow you to keep the animal, or assuming that your landlord will not find out, you have not acted in the animal’s best interest and you can potentially be evicted. It is up to you to protect your pet, and if you cannot even provide shelter for the pet, it may not be the right time in your life to have a pet at all.
This column was produced with the generous support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.