Many families consider their animal companions as part of their family. In many situations, these families reside in apartment buildings or condominiums where they are subject to a set of declarations, by-laws, and regulations, prohibiting animals from living on the property. Although in Ontario, apartment landlords are forbidden from restricting animals on the property, condominium boards restricting animal access may be enforceable. However, there are ways that condominium unit owners can circumvent these prohibitions and live happily with their furry friends in their condominium unit.

More specifically, if an individual is found to require their animal companion for accommodating a disability, the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”) provides certain rights that a condominium corporation’s declarations, rules, or by-laws cannot prevail over. In fact, the common law provides that a condominium resident may raise a claim to keep their animal companion in their unit under the Code, where the animal provides support for an ongoing disability[1], whether it is physical or mental. Also, as a further protection, a resident is not necessarily required to exhaust other means of assistance before being able to rely on rights protected under the Code[2]. In short, unit owners of condominiums may not be barred from living with their furry family members if they can demonstrate that their animal companion provides crucial support to their physical or mental health.[3]

In one particular case, a judge held that a condo unit owner was permitted to keep her animal companion on the premises due to the owner having clinical depression. Here, the judge held that “to force her to abandon her [animal] would cause her severe emotional and physical detriment”.[4] Essentially, the common law recognizes the Code’s protections to apply to mental disabilities just as they apply to physical disabilities.

Acquiring an animal lawyer with experience in negotiating with condominium corporations may help grant you the ability to prevent your condominium board from restricting your furry friend from living on the premises with you. If a condo is attempting to remove your pet, the staff at Gartner & Associates have experience in animal-related disputes with condominium corporations and may assist you in keeping your animal companion at home. In recent years, mediation has been the predominantly successful option for resolving pet and condominium disputes. As such, it is important to obtain a lawyer with experience in mediation. To find out more about pet guardianship and condominiums, and the law surrounding this area, you can contact the staff at Gartner & Associates Animal Law. They can be reached at 416 849 0944.

 

[1] Niagara North Condominium Corp No 46 v Chassie, [1999] OJ No 1201.

[2] Waterloo North Condominium Corp No 186 v Donner [1997] OJ No 6332.

[3] Waterloo North Condominium Corp No 186 v Weidner, [2003] OJ No 2496.

[4] Chassie at para 92.

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