Can Tenants Be Forced to Give Up Their Pets or Risk Eviction?

Can tenants be forced to give up their pets or risk eviction? It depends on the situation. In 1990 residential tenancy laws were amended. 1 One goal was to protect responsible pet owners yet hold irresponsible ones accountable for their pets. 2

Complaints against pet owners (“the tenant”) may be brought to the Landlord and Tenant Board (“the Board”). The Board will only act 3 against a tenant that is keeping an animal if it has confirmed one of the following:

Ground 1: The animal is causing interference with the landlord’s or other tenant’s use of a rental unit or is causing a safety issue to the landlord or other people. 4

Ground 2: The animal is causing an allergic reaction to the landlord or other people. 4

Ground 3: The animal is inherently dangerous. 4

 

Example No. 1

In 2010, a landlord brought an application to terminate a tenancy because the tenant’s pit bulls interfered with the landlord’s enjoyment of the rental complex (See Ground 3 above).

In reviewing the grounds to terminate, the Board determined that:

  • The tenant possessed two pit bull terriers. 5
  • In 2005 the Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005 banned pit bulls in Ontario. An exception was made for people who owned pit bulls at the time this law was passed. They were permitted to keep their dogs upon following certain requirements 6, such as ensuring that their pit bulls were leashed and muzzled at all times on public property and on private property if the private property was not enclosed. 7
  • Both of the tenant’s pit bulls were born before the law banning pit bulls was passed. 8 The tenant could legally own the dogs.
  • While acknowledging that the landlord had a genuine fear about pit bulls which required medical treatment, the Board determined that the interference was due to the landlord’s own fears and that, “… the dogs have done nothing to disturb anyone”. 9 Furthermore, “… even if it was true that pit bulls are inherently dangerous the Landlords would still have to prove that the Tenants’ pit bulls have done something to contribute to the Landlords’ fears. … the dogs have been peaceable, quiet and well-behaved. 10

The landlord’s application was dismissed. 11

Example No. 2

In 2013 a landlord brought an application to terminate a tenancy because of the landlord’s allergic reaction to the tenant’s dog (see Ground 2 above).

The landlord placed a written advertisement for a basement apartment for rent which specifically stated, No Pets. 12 The landlord lived on the main and second floors of the house. 13

The tenant, who owned a dog, brought it into his apartment. 14 It was later discovered by the landlord. 15 The landlord explained to the tenant the reason for the no pet provision. Dogs caused her to have asthma attacks. 16

The Board reviewed the grounds to terminate and determined that:

  • The landlord suffers severe asthmatic symptoms which are triggered by the presence of dogs. 17
  • The tenant caused or contributed to the landlord’s asthmatic attacks by keeping a dog. 18
  • The central heating system and the central vacuum system allowed pet dander and/or pet hair to pass from the tenant’s unit to the landlord’s unit. 19
  • It is not reasonable nor does the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 require that the landlord spend large sums of money to address her allergic reaction to the dog. 20
  • The most practical solution to the landlord’s adverse health reaction is to remove the tenant’s dog. The tenant refused to part with his dog. The solution is therefore to terminate the tenancy. 21

The Board terminated the tenancy.

NOTES

1.    Landlord and Tenant Amendment (Animals) Act, 1990, S.O. 1990, c. 19

2.    Ontario, Legislative Assembly, Hansard (27 June 1990) at page 2021.

Mr. Polsinelli: … I believe that these amendments strike a fair balance that will permit action to be taken against irresponsible pet owners but will protect tenants whose pets are well behaved, do not cause harm and are not dangerous.

3.    Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17, s. 76

(2)  The Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant relying on clause (1) (a) if it is satisfied that the animal kept by the tenant did not cause or contribute to the substantial interference.

(3)  The Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant relying on clause (1) (b) if it is satisfied that the animal kept by the tenant did not cause or contribute to the allergic reaction.

4.    Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17, s. 76

(1)  If an application based on a notice of termination under section 64, 65 or 66 is grounded on the presence, control or behaviour of an animal in or about the residential complex, the Board shall not make an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant without being satisfied that the tenant is keeping an animal and that,

(a)  subject to subsection (2), the past behaviour of an animal of that species has substantially interfered with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for all usual purposes by the landlord or other tenants;

(b)  subject to subsection (3), the presence of an animal of that species has caused the landlord or another tenant to suffer a serious allergic reaction; or

(c)  the presence of an animal of that species or breed is inherently dangerous to the safety of the landlord or the other tenants.

TSL-29326 (Re), 2010 CanLII 67965 (ON LTB)

5.    See paragraph 11

Sometime after the Tenants moved in on October 15, 2009 the Landlords learned the Tenants own three dogs, a cat, multiple exotic birds and a large Monitor lizard. The problem from the Landlords’ point of view is that two of the Tenants’ dogs are pit bulls …

6.    See paragraph 15

The web site for the Ministry of the Attorney General has the following information on it:

  • On October 26, 2004 the McGuinty government introduced Bill 132 to amend the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA), with related amendments to the Animals for Research Act (ARA).
  • Bill 132 was passed by the Legislative Assembly as the Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005 on March 1, 2005. It received Royal Assent on March 9, 2005.
  • The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public.
  • Ontario’s pit bull ban took effect on August 29, 2005.
  • All dog owners must comply with the amended requirements of DOLA and other provisions of law.
  • Pit bull owners may keep their existing dogs, as long as they comply with certain requirements.

7.    See paragraph 16

… Under the regulations the Tenants are required to ensure that their pit bulls are leashed and muzzled at all times on public property and on private property if the private property is not enclosed.

8.    See paragraph 16

It was the evidence before me that both of the Tenants’ pit bulls are “grandfathered” meaning that they are not illegal and not banned under the legislation. This is because they were born prior to August 29, 2005.

9.    See paragraph 20

Given the medical evidence filed I accept that the female Landlord has a genuine phobia about pit bulls and that it has caused her sufficient stress that she has required medical treatment. That being said section 64 requires that the Landlords establish that the conduct of the Tenants has substantially interfered with the reasonable enjoyment or lawful right, privilege or interest of the Landlords. It seems to me that the only thing the Tenants actually did was to own dogs they are legally entitled to own. The interference with the Landlords’ enjoyment has not been caused by anything the Tenants have done or failed to do; rather the interference is rooted in the Landlords’ own fears and prejudices. As the Tenant at the hearing stated, the dogs have done nothing to disturb anyone. As a result, I am not convinced that the Tenants have substantially interfered with the Landlords’ reasonable enjoyment.

10.   See paragraph 22

Essentially what section 76 means is that the Board does not have the jurisdiction to terminate a tenancy because of the presence of pit bulls if the Tenants’ dogs “did not cause or contribute to the substantial interference”. In other words, the dogs have to have done something; they have to be the source of the problem. It is not enough to speculate that in the future the dogs might attack a repairman entering the rental unit in an emergency. That is not evidence but speculation. Rather under section 76 even if it was true that pit bulls are inherently dangerous the Landlords would still have to prove that the Tenants’ pit bulls have done something to contribute to the Landlords’ fears. As the evidence before me was that the dogs have been peaceable, quiet and well-behaved then I have no choice but to find the Board has no jurisdiction to evict the Tenants as the Landlords have failed to establish that the Tenants’ dogs caused or contributed to the Landlords’ phobia.

11.   See paragraph 23

… the Landlords’ application for an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the Tenants shall be dismissed.

TNL-51096-13 (Re), 2014 CanLII 28553 (ON LTB)

12.   See paragraph 3

The Landlord advertised the unit for rent on Craigslist, noting in the “requirements” section that there would be “ … absolutely NO SMOKING/PETS, please!”.

13.   See paragraph 2

The Landlord lives in the main and second floor of the house. There are two residential units in the house; one occupied by the Tenant and the other by the Landlord.

14.   See paragraph 9

The Tenant has a pet golden retriever dog, which he has had for several years, and which he brought with him to the rental unit when he moved in.

15.   See paragraph 10

On about July 8, 2013, the Landlord discovered that the Tenant had brought a dog into the house.

 16.  See paragraph 13

The Landlord immediately called the Tenant … to advise him that she could not have a dog living in the house as she has asthma that is exacerbated by dogs.

 17.   See paragraph 63

I find, based on the evidence, that the Landlord suffers severe asthma symptoms which are triggered by the presence of dogs, among other things.

18.   See paragraph 64

I find, based on the evidence that the dog kept by the Tenant has caused or contributed to the exacerbation of the Landlord’s asthma symptoms, both in the severity and the frequency of those symptoms.

19.   See paragraph 65

I find that the central heating system and the central vacuum system are both sources of pet dander and/or pet hair passing from the Tenant’s unit to that of the Landlord.

20.   See paragraph 66

I do not consider it reasonable, nor does the Act require, that the Landlord incur capital expense of over $6,000.00 as well as increased annual operating costs of about $1,000.00 to install devices to treat and purify the air in the house. Moreover, this solution does not and cannot address the issue completely, as there are other shared devices such as the central vacuum and other pathways for unpurified air to pass between the Landlord and the Tenant’s unit.

21.   See paragraph 67

The most efficacious solution to the Landlord’s adverse health reaction is to remove the source of the problem, which is the Tenant’s dog. The Tenant has made it clear that he will not part with his dog. The solution is therefore to terminate the tenancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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