Pets in the declaration & the rules 

All regulations about pet ownership in a condo corporation heavily depends on whether the regulations are in the declaration or in the rules. Pet restrictions do not belong in the by-laws.

The Declaration
In Ontario rental buildings, it is illegal under the Residential Tenancies Act to prohibit pets. However, it is legal for condos to do so if the prohibition is in the declaration.

If a condo corporation wants to prohibit dogs, certain breeds of dogs or all pets, it should do so in the declaration. Unlike by-laws and rules, the provisions in the declaration do not have to be reasonable.

To add, change or delete a declaration's wording on pets, 80%  of all owners must agree to the proposed changes in writing.

Rules must be reasonable and created for the safety, security and welfare of the owners and the property. Rules also may be created to prevent interference with the use and  enjoyment of the common elements and other private units.

If rules are unreasonable, they are open to court challenge. Requiring a dog owner to carry their dog while walking through the lobby may be deemed unreasonable while restricting dogs from entering and leaving the building through the front lobby and insisting that they use a side or back door may be reasonable.

Some condo boards have passed rules banning dogs from the corporation's property. They may be able to do this if the declaration is silent on pets and all pet restrictions were written in the condo's rules and regulations.

Existing dogs are grandfathered but when they die, they cannot be replaced. The new rules do not ban all pets, perhaps just dogs.

Human rights & therapy animals
Residents owning a therapy animal may be protected by the Human Rights Code. Animals that provide emotional support for a person suffering a mental disorder or depression, along with seeing eye-dogs, hearing-ear dogs, dogs warning of epilepsy attacks and animals that provide assistance to autistic children come under the Human Rights Code.

A board may want to ask a resident if their pet falls under one of these categories before it embarrasses itself.

Sleeping on its rights

A condo board must enforce its declaration and rules whether or not there has been a complaint.

However, if the board, or previous boards, ignored violations of its declaration or rules, then it may need to grandfather all existing pets in the building before starting enforcement.

The grandfathering should be by written agreement and is personal to the existing owner, not to the unit. When the existing pet dies, the grandfathering dies with that animal.

Pet disputes become very emotional
It may be best if the status certificate states the condominium's pet restrictions so that new owners are not taken by surprise when they show up at their new home to find out that their dog is not allowed to live on the property.

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