The debate rages on about the “right” of tenants to have pets, and I’d like to clear the air once and for all.
My opinions on the matter differ, depending on which hat I’m wearing – Realtor, Investor, Owner.
So let’s take a look at what I think versus what the laws say…
No cows allowed?
Who the hell are YOU to try and tell me that I can’t bring livestock in this establishment! I’d like to speak with the manager, please…
It’s funny how we group smoking and pets together in many respects, but not others.
Case in point: leasing a condominium.
There is a lot of mis-information floating around in our city about the right of tenants to have pets, the right of landlords to ban pets, and the right of condo corporations to limit pets. So let’s look at these one at a time.
Any condominium corporation can make restrictions on the size, type, or number of pets you have, or ban them altogether.
Some condominiums say, “All dogs must be under thirty pounds.”
Other condominiums blur the lines by saying, “You must be able to carry your pet from the elevator to the exterior of the lobby.” But in this case, what if you have a 300-pound bodybuilder who could carry a horse versus a crippled old woman who can’t lift a can-opener?
Or what if that little old lady can put a 90-pound dog in the basket of her motorized cart?
Many condo boards (or property management companies) have come up with ridiculous verbiage like that above which clearly creates a grey area and sets the foundation for a legal battle.
Some condo corporations allow you ONE pet, not TWO, and/or they might limit the size of that pet.
Every condominium is different, and this is why you (and your lawyer) have to thoroughly read through the Declaration, Rules & Regulations, and Status Certificate.
Now in the case of the individual unit-owner, this is where things get murky.
Actually, things aren’t murky – they’re spelled right out in the Landlord & Tenant Act.
But I mean it’s murky because personally, I think some laws don’t apply to me.
The “No Pets” rule has been deemed unenforceable, but it doesn’t mean that Landlord’s have stopped putting a clause in place, and/or evicting tenants who have pets.
And as I said at the onset – I’ll give different advice depending on whether I’m speaking as a Realtor or an Investor.
To be brutally honest, I don’t care what the Landlord & Tenant Act, or the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms have to say when it comes to my investment properties.
I’ve gone on record before saying that I’m not afraid to “discriminate,” and that I have certain criteria I adhere to when leasing out my properties.
I don’t rent to guys. Seriously – if two guys, aged 22 or 23, want to live in my investment property, they can keep looking. I wouldn’t trust these guys to respect the value of my investment, let alone refrain from having beer-funnelling competitions every Friday & Saturday.
I don’t like to rent to people under the age of thirty. I want my tenants to be responsible, mature, established business professionals.
If you think I’m wrong, then go join Green Peace, or go dig trenches in Africa. You can’t have only one foot in this argument; we’re not dancing the hokey-pokey.
I’m the one that stuck my neck out; I’m the one that put my money on the line; and I’m the one that should choose who I trust with my investment.
And I’m not going to lease to a person who has three giant dogs that will scratch up my $10,000 hardwood floors.
It’s that simple.
Take me to court. Can you? Can anybody?
Society loves to say “You can’t do this, or that,” but at the end of the day, can you enforce anything? How easily can you sue somebody?
When I interview prospective tenants, I ask them, “Do you have pets?” If somebody said, “Actually, under the Landlord & Tenant Act, you’re not allowed to enforce ‘no pets,'” then I would immediately say, “Thank you for your time,” and move on.
It’s my right to lease to people who don’t know their rights!. I don’t care if it’s discriminatory. It is what it is.
I find it insanely hypocritical that a Landlord can legally ban smokers, but a landlord cannot ban pets.
The reason given? “Protecting your investment.”
The following excerpt is from “The Landlord & Tenant’s Guide To No Smoking Policies In Ontario.”
Yes. It is legal for a landlord to ban smoking in a private unit in Ontario. The right to enact a no-smoking policy into a lease was confirmed in a 2008 Landlord and Tenant Board decision. You have the right to protect your investment.
“You have the right to protect your investment.”
So I can protect my investment by banning smokers, but I can’t protect my investment by banning pets?
So a smoker will stink up the condo, and we don’t want that – because we’re allowed to protect our investment.
But a cat with claws will tear up carpet or put giant scratches in $12/sqft Brazilian Cherry hardwood flooring – and that’s okay.
It’s hypocritical if you ask me.
What does the Landlord & Tenant Act say about pets?
Even if the tenancy agreement has a ‘no pets’ rule in it, the tenant cannot be evicted just for having a pet unless the Board decides in an order that the pet is causing a problem, or that the pet is inherently dangerous.
So the Landlord & Tenant Act supersedes ANY agreement that a landlord makes with a tenant. If a landlord inserts a clause reading, “The Tenant hereby agrees that at no point during the course of the lease will any pets be present in the property,” then the tenant can agree, sign, and then say “ha-ha, too-bad, I have a massive dog!”
A tenant can be evicted for one of two causes pertaining to pets:
1) the pet is making too much noise, damaging the unit, or causing an allergic reaction
2) the animal or species is considered to be inherently dangerous
But I ask again – how hard is it to remove a “problem tenant” once they dig in their heels?
Tenants have incredible rights these days, and if you want to take the tenant to the Tribunal because he or she has a dog that has ruined your floors, it might take eight months to get them out of the unit.
Simply put: there is no way for a landlord to ensure, legally, that a tenant does not have pets in the unit.
And personally, I think that sucks.
We can ban smokers, but we can’t ban pets.
Both cause damage to our property, but I guess our socialist government loves cats more than it loves nicotine.
If you ask me (as a captialist, conservative, anit-leftist, etc), I think tenants have far too many rights. Those that understand the system can milk it for years on end, and cause massive financial damages to investors who risk their financial health to try to get ahead by investing in real estate.
I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for this blog post, just as I did two years ago when I said, “I don’t rent to men, I don’t rent to 2o-somethings, and nobody is going to tell me who/when/how I rent out my condos,” but I’m offering my opinion, and NOT stating it as fact.
After all, what’s to stop a tenant from having a Honey Badger as a pet?
“Honey Badger don’t care. Honey Badger don’t give a…..”