Precocious, Precarious, PETS!

Business | May 27, 2011

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.

Oh really?

“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…..”

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  1. Joe Q.

    at 9:24 am

    Good post (though I think you’re using a pretty broad brush in characterizing political positions). In any case, I was unaware that it is now legal to put a no-smoking clause in a lease agreement, and I agree whole-heartedly that no-pets clauses should be legal too.

    What bothers me most — as someone with family members that have bad allergies — is inconsistency. When we were searching for rental units, we always specifically looked for ads that mentioned “no smoking and no pets”, and would confirm with the landlord that the building was in fact pet-free before signing a lease. This always worked out well for us.

    Problems came in one case when the other tenant in our duplex moved out. The landlord soon announced that he had found a good potential replacement tenant who had cats, and that he was thinking of changing his no-pets policy to accommodate her. Of course he was completely within his rights to do so, but it was horribly inconsiderate to his existing tenants (us). In the end, we moved out, and the good potential replacement tenant found a different place anyway.

  2. Sarah

    at 9:26 am

    No real arguments on the no pets issue. I would put forth the notion, though, that pet rules should not be put in place retroactively. A condo corporation should not be able to force people to get rid of pets that were previously allowed and landlords should not be able to change their mind about pets after indicating to incoming tenants that they are okay. If they change their mind, it should only come into effect with the next lease negotiation so the pet owners can move on fairly.

    As a landlord you can rent or not rent to whomever you like when it comes down to it, especially in today’s market where plenty of people are renting because they can’t afford to buy. You have your pick of potential tenants.

    Likewise, your potential tenants can choose whether or not to rent from you.

    When my husband and I were looking for our current place, we knew that we wanted to get a cat so we made sure to find a place that was “cat-friendly”. I specifically used this phrasing to avoid the whole notion that we could not legally be prevented from having a pet but we could be charged for any damages that that animal caused or could be perceived to have caused. We looked at one place where the landlord said we could have a cat but we’d probably have to replace the carpet when we left because cats damage rugs. When he said this, I looked down at the grubby, stained old grey shag that the outgoing tenants had just dumped an ash tray on and smelled a rat.

    We did not rent from him…although he called us after our visit to see if we would. Obviously he was not going to give up on his free new carpet easily.

    Our current landlords have put a clause in our lease indicating that cats are permitted (of course the unit is also carpetless and the floors are laminate).

    The pet issue shouldn’t be a big deal as long as everyone is upfront about it so please continue being that way with potential tenants. Both landlords and tenants in this city can have issues with the whole honesty thing and I’ve met plenty of landlords I would not do business with.

  3. HB

    at 10:24 am

    Honey Badger! You’re so hip and with it; the fact that you have this on your blog. I bet TMZ is your fave site as well.

  4. JC

    at 11:37 am

    Could you put a clause in your lease that imposes a “hardwood floor maintenance fee” on all tenants, but discount that for tenants that are pet and toddler free? or pass an annual inspection of the floor? That said I question whether dogs are any worse for your floor than a grown adult who doesn’t realize you should but protection of some kind under all the chairs etc.

  5. Moonbeam

    at 6:17 pm

    Omigod! LOL! The Honey Badger had me in stitches! Thanx for the major laughs!!

  6. Dale

    at 1:05 pm

    Ah yes, I remember my somewhat brief foray into Landlording. You couldn’t pay me to do that again. FYI, though I understand your reasons for not renting to guys, the gals I rented to after a thorough interview and background check could have given any group of 20 year olds a run for their money.

    A course I took on Landlord/Tenant rights in Ontario shattered any doubts I may have had about selling the place and buying preferred stock with the proceeds. Tenants have way too many rights in Ontario and the Landlord too few.

    But that doesn’t stop some of them from trying things that are outright illegal. From time to time I have a sign-back that I dig out to have a laugh. The Landlord was a lawyer and his Realtor a newbie. Key deposits, damage deposits, 3 months up front, any violation of the LTA you could think of was contained in this gem. My client and I walked, and then suddenly they decided to play fair.

    I’m great with the no-smoking thing.
    Pets? If everyone was a good pet owner there wouldn’t be a problem – but sadly, thats not the case. I agree with you. If you state from the outset that there are to be no pets – then NO pets. If you lie about having a pet and suddenly show up with a Great Dane, then you should be evicted, and pronto.
    There are Tenants out there that will trash a brand new condo in a few months without the benefit of a dog assisting them in their efforts.

  7. Ryguy

    at 8:12 am

    What happens if your pet is a smoking Honey Badger with a serious nicotine addiction?

  8. Jessica Nguyen

    at 10:22 am

    I am currently a tenant of a luxury unit. I own an 85 pound doberman that scratched up the engineered hardwood flooring in this unit. Just some background information about when I moved in, it was very informal with my landlord (who is an acquaintance). “Pay on time, you leave me alone I leave you alone. Does your dog scratch? No? Okay” I told him that my dog didn’t scratch the floors because I honestly thought he wouldn’t. The previous building I lived in had the same looking floors that not one scratch appeared on. NOW I know that those were nice laminate floors….and THESE ones are actually engineered hardwood.

    Now I know that he is my dog, and it is not normal wear and tear of a unit that I lived in for exactly one year. When my landlord came to take pictures of the unit to post to sell, I showed him the scratches right away (living room, bedroom, den and hallway) and I said that I know this isn’t normal, I will fix it.

    And then I started my homework. It is very expensive. I’m talking like $3000 minimum expensive. I can’t afford this, I thought it would run me the cost of a months rent around $1300. Since you are a unit owner, can you put yourself in my landlord’s shoes and tell me what you/I should do? Please!

  9. dude

    at 1:36 pm

    Ridiculous. You enter into a risky investment and then complain that it’s risky? Not allowing cats is like not allowing your tenant to have a boyfriend. Normal wear and tear includes the ever-so-slight little scuffs a cat might put into your fancy floors. Get over it. You aren’t cut out for this, apparently.

    1. David Fleming

      at 8:54 pm

      @ dude

      You are a moron. You are likely somebody that will rent forever. Perhaps a socialist, green-friendly, eco bike riding, save the whales type.

      Embrace capitalism or fall behind.

      You refer to my “fancy” floors as if it’s a bad thing. If you want to play hackie-sack in the park and grow beards while you and your friends complain about how your boss expects too much of you, then fine. But don’t act as if owning real property isn’t a RIGHT, and doing as one sees fit with it is somehow a wrong.

      I weed out losers like you and I won’t rent to you. You can always whine to the rental tribunal, but it won’t get you anywhere.

      Good luck in life buddy.

      1. Jeremy

        at 5:19 pm

        David, I see that you’ve toned down your responses over the years… probably a good thing!

  10. Jenn

    at 8:46 pm

    Again, another old one… Can you tell I’m reading backwards? 🙂

    I train dogs (hence my e-mail) and we have two medium sized dogs. We also take great pride in our living space, and I am 100% certain you wouldn’t know we had dogs. We even dremel (as in, sand/grind) their nails so they don’t have the little sharp edges that scratch floors.

    We are, however, tenants. We moved from BC and we are GRATEFUL that apartments here in Ontario cannot discriminate against pet owners. Honestly, just because we have pets, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a place to live. So I am fully in support of apartments being mandated to allow pets.

    Similarly, if I buy my unit in a condo, I want to be able to have pets. No pets clauses in condos are stupid. If I have a dog that doesn’t move all day, or bark, what business is it of anyone else’s if there’s dog hair around, or the odd scratch on the floor? I do fully believe that pets who are a DISTURBANCE should be dealt with – but in exactly the same way that people throwing cig butts onto the terrace below should be dealt with.

    The grey area here is condo owners who want to rent to pet owners. As someone who can wholeheartedly say with confidence I’m sure we’d take care of your investment (even with our two dogs) better than anyone else without dogs, I still believe you should have the right to say no pets. This is your investment, and I also believe you should be able to say “no kids” (which are messier on a good day than our dogs on a bad day) and “no people who cook with curry” even though we may all enjoy a good curry from time to time.

    But under no circumstance should apartments be able to say “no pets”. I’m in total 100% support of Ontario’s legislation. I just wish people were more respectful of private landlords and avoided rentals that prefer no pets. And I’m also never in support of condo rules regarding pets, because more often than not they’re completely unreasonable and uneducated. Why is a 80lb graceful, hypoallergenic, quiet Greyhound not allowed, but a 10lb terrier that pisses in the corners is okay. The rules are made by those who don’t understand dogs.

    1. Jenn

      at 8:49 pm

      Oops, obviously that line should read “condo owners who DON’T want to rent to pet owners”

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  12. carolyn

    at 2:10 am

    I have been reading this thread and am presently trying to find an apartment in Sudbury Ontario that will accept pets, and believe me they are few and far between. A few bad pet owner/tenants ruin it for everybody else, I have an indoor, neutered/declawed cat and a great pyr that is a huge lazy lug that sleeps most of the day, is happy with a 45 minute walk a day, I carry poop bags when I walk him, and would never tolerate him to bark accept to warn me someone is at the door. None of that matters though even with excellent references from prior landlords. My pets have never damaged anything, being an honest person I would never lie about pets and then try sneaking them in later, so I’m honest and forthright from the start and hope I will run into a landlord that will willingly accept pets. What I don’t understand is why don’t landlords allow pets and require a damage deposit for damages done or not done. As for not picking up after the doggy doo doo, I know somebody that would let the poop accumulate and clean their yard once a month, neighbors complained rightfully so, by law came by and slapped them with 120.00 fine, the yard was cleaned daily after that. Most people have pets, and It is as ridiculous to say no pets as to say no children or seniors allowed.

  13. ChuteBoxer

    at 9:57 am

    Ha ha ha. People just lie about having pets and kids because dumbasses like you exist. The whole reason the human rights tribunal exists is to prevent you ignorant fucks from discriminating against people because you assume based on their gender, race, family status or age that they will behave a certain way. The reason the law is written and was passed is because there is absolutes when using those variables.
    I love renting from dicks just like you because on paper I look fucking great and I smile in your face and sign the lease and bring my dog snake, rats, kids and whoever or whatever the fuck I want and if you get in my face about it I tell you to fuck off and take me to court because I could care less if my landlord doesn’t like me. And if you keep acting like a dick I fuck you oit of like 6 Mo’s worth of rent and laugh it off because the credit check was bs and you have no idea who I actually am and if you decide your butt hurt and wanna put your hands on me I choke you the fuck out because you can’t prove that and if you wanna be real hard I know where you live and terrible things happen to people sleeping all the time. So don’t be a dick honeyfaggot stop discriminating against people because you assume things in your uneducated mind. I know it’s your investment and most people aren’t trying to fuck over their landlord because having a nice place to live is very important and also understand that it is a rental unit that may in fact incur some wear and tear so set some cash aside by factoring that in the rent so you won’t be caught off guard financially. You are a business man right? So you know that there are cost incurred in doing buisiness? Don’t be those dicks that think they don’t have to maintain their property. Also if someone’s dog does damage their shit just take em to small claims. If you did a proper credit check then you’ll know they are probably good for it.
    Remember as well that that if you are caught blatantly discriminating against someone contrary to the human rights code you can be sued for a hefty amount. Even asking certain questions is deemed a violation. Not a good idea for a person in your position to not give a fuck. That’s a honey badger’s job, you have too much to lose to be acting like a thug.

  14. Balthazar

    at 12:15 pm

    You are hilarious in your insane right wing stances. I wonder how you would react to real socialist policies.. honestly I just pity your self-interest motivated worldview. I bet you believe that no one has ever helped you in life.

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