A huge percentage of condos have anti-pet rules or restrictions on what animals are allowed. An informal study conducted by the BC SPCA last year showed that less than ten percent of landlords advertise that they accept both dogs and cats. That number only applies to rental properties, but pet-friendly condos aren’t much easier to find. They do exist, though, and with a little extra research you can find the perfect building.
There is a lot of public debate over whether condo associations can legally ban pets. The answer, according to Ontario courts, is yes- as long as the prohibition is in the declaration and not the rules. Complete bans have to be set forth in advance when the corporation is formed. Pet guidelines in the declaration can be amended with the approval of 80% of the units.
That said, the condo board is allowed to make restrictions regarding pets. They may do so for security reasons, to improve resident safety, or even to prevent unreasonable disruption to other tenants. Rules can cover such aspects as the size or type of animals allowed, leash policies for common areas, cleaning up pet waste or other messes, noise levels, and more. The only constant is that the rules must be reasonable measures with clear motivations.
So how can you find a pet-friendly building? First, check the MLS listings. In the vital statistics area there will be a code labelled ‘Pets Perm’. ‘N’ (for no) and ‘Y’ (for yes) are fairly self-explanatory. You will find more listings with the entry ‘Restrict’, though, and that’s where it gets confusing. ‘Restricted’ means there are rules governing pets in those condos. The only way to find these rules is by asking for a copy of the policy. Be sure you read it carefully and ask your realtor to explain anything you don’t understand.
There are two instances in which animals may live in a pet-free building. The first group is pets who were ‘grandfathered in’ before a vote changed the building’s policies. Changes only apply to future animals, so don’t assume pets are welcome because other residents have them. The second exception concerns service animals. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, service and therapy animals may live with their disabled handlers even when declarations ban them.