What are my legal rights as a landlord for renters with pets?
How can I screen out applicants if I don't want pets?
If you don’t want pets living in your rental property, you can mention ‘no pets’ in your advertisement. You can also ask applicants during the application process if they have pets and decide not to rent to them based on their answer.
What you cannot do based on section 14 of Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act is include a clause in your rental agreement form stating that the renter cannot own a pet. These are automatically considered void unless you are in a condo that has rules stating no pets are allowed to inhabit the building. It's important to note that service animals are not considered pets.
Read more about what a landlord can and cannot ask on a rental application here.
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How can I screen applicants who have pets if I do allow pets?
If you are okay with a pet living in your rental property but want to do what you can to ensure your home won’t be damaged by them, ask questions. This may help you learn more about how well cared for and trained the pet is.
Questions to ask potential tenants/pet owners:
What kind of animal is it? (This will help you initially gauge the risk for damage e.g. a goldfish in a bowl is lower risk than an untrained dog)
How long have you had your pet? What are they like?
Does your dog bark a lot? (Barking could easily disturb neighbours within the same building)
Has your pet ever hurt anyone?
Who normally cares for your pet when you are away?
Is your pet trained to do his business outdoors?
You can ask their previous landlord during reference checks what their pet is like.
The reality is people can lie. If you ask to meet the pet this might give you a better indication of what they are like. Upon meeting them, you can ask the owner in a friendly manner to show you how the dog responds to basic commands like “sit” and “stay”. This is one basic tell of how well-trained the pet is.
On what grounds can I evict a renter for having a pet? What should I do if a pet is bothering the neighbouring rental units?
Landlords can’t simply evict an existing tenant with an eviction notice because they have a pet unless it is within a condo’s no pet rules.
If someone has a pet that is infringing on another tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the rental property or is causing significant damage to the unit, then you might have grounds to evict them. This involves serving your tenant and N5 notice (more on that below).
- If the pet is very noisy (e.g. neighbouring units are woken up by barking)
- People in neighbouring units or co-habitants in a shared space are severely allergic to the pet
- The pet is violent (e.g. bites, barks aggressively, behaves in a threatening manner)
- Damages the property (e.g. chews the baseboards or spindles on railings)
Should I charge a pet fee? Is that legal?
Ontario landlords cannot legally request tenants pay them anything upfront other than the first and last month's rent. The first and last month’s rent money cannot be used to pay for damages caused by a pet.
What should I do if a pet has damaged my rental?
If a tenant’s pet has damaged your rental unit and you want to evict them because of it, you will need to serve them an N5 eviction notice.
When filling out the N5 form you will need to include two estimates on how much the repairs for the damage will cost, as well as details of the damages. If it costs more to repair the damaged objects than to replace them, the landlord must provide information on how much it will cost to replace the items.
After the N5 form is served, the tenant has three options:
- They have seven days to repair the damage or provide the landlord with money to repair the damage or buy replacements
- They can move out by the termination date stated on the N5 notice
- They can do nothing and wait until the landlord files an L2 form with the Landlord and Tenant board, which is a notice to evict a tenant and end a tenancy. Read more about eviction notices, the process behind them, and L2 forms.
Read more about what to do when your rental property is damaged.
What types of rental units are better suited for pets?
Rentals in the form of houses and single-unit dwellings are best suited for pets because you are not going to have other tenants in the building complaining, or impacted by the pet. Everyone in the home is presumably on board or understanding of a pet being brought in. It is the onus of the person on the lease to ensure everyone in their rental space is comfortable with the pet.
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