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. You start to see the problem. If the tenant is honest up front and tells the landlord they have a pet, their application can be refused. If the tenant lies on the application and then brings in a pet afterwards, there is nothing the landlord can do. The result is often a poisoned relationship, right from the start.
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Some landlords ask tenants with pets for a security deposit when they move into the unit in order to pay for any damages the pet causes during the lease. Also illegal. In a landlord and tenant board case decided in Whitby on October 7, 2009, the tenant wanted to bring a pet onto the premises. The landlord demanded a $50 fee to bring the pet as well as an additional $50 per month which would go toward a carpet replacement fund when the tenant left. The adjudicator, Claudette Leslie, decided that both of these payment requests were illegal. The only amount a landlord can ask for in advance is last month’s rent, and it can only be used toward last month’s rent.
If your pet has caused damage to the home, then the landlord can evict you if you do not repair the damages. If you leave the unit damaged at the end of your tenancy, the landlord can go to small claims court and sue you for the damages caused. In another Board decision, a tenant was ordered to pay $250 to have the carpets steam-cleaned after their cat urinated on them. Scratches or bite marks caused by pets to the woodwork and floors of a home can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to repair.
In other cases, tenants have been evicted because their pets barked all the time and were a nuisance to the other tenants in the building.
When you have a pet, bring references from prior landlords that confirm that you always looked after your pet and that you also took good care of the property while you lived there. This will assist you in convincing the current landlord that you will do the same with their property. It goes without saying that pets should always be properly groomed, to avoid any unnecessary damages as well.
Landlords, make sure that the tenant signs some form of rental unit condition statement when they move in and take pictures of the unit, so that you will have proof if any damages are caused by the tenant during the tenancy.
Landlords and tenants should not have to lie to each other. Treat each other with respect, even on pet issues, and the tenancy relationship will be a positive one for everyone involved.
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org