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Pets

Welcome to the CAO’s guided steps to common issues. The CAO provides the information, tools, and templates on these pages to help condominium communities better understand issues and work together to resolve them collaboratively before they escalate into disputes. For situations where condo communities are unable to resolve their issues collaboratively, the CAO also provides information on the next steps they can take.

If you have any questions about any of the information on the CAO’s guided steps to common issues, please contact us directly.

Pets

Pets are an important part of many people’s lives. For many condo residents, a pet is a member of their family.

However, conflicts around pets can arise in condominiums. Problems may arise when residents don’t pick up after their pets. Many condo buildings have rules around the types of pets people can keep in their condo unit. Noise complaints are one of the most common condo issues.

Examples of common pet issues include:

  • A resident has a pet that is not permitted.
  • A resident has a pet that is causing a nuisance.
  • A resident has a pet, but that resident is not cleaning up after the pet.
  • A resident has a pet that is dangerous, such as a poisonous snake.

Service Animals

A service animal is an animal that assists a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered “pets,” and are protected by Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Dogs are the most common species of service animals, but any type of animal can be a service animal.

Service animals provide a variety of assistance. They may lead a person with a visual disability, or they may help calm a person who has post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on disability, which means that a condo cannot prevent a resident from keeping a service animal.

Most service animals can be easily identified from vests or harnesses, but a condo corporation may also request to see a note from a doctor or nurse which identifies the person’s need for a service animal, which may otherwise look like a normal pet.

If you receive a complaint or are having an issue with someone else’s pet, start by reviewing your condo corporation’s declaration and rules. The declaration and/or rules may prohibit the keeping of any pets or may impose limitations on the kind or species of pets you are permitted to keep. Many condominium corporations permit owners to have pets, but only if they are a certain size (for example, owners may be allowed to have a dog, but only if it weighs less than 35 pounds). The declaration and rules may also limit the number of pets that owners can have.

If a pet is causing a noise issue or other nuisance, you may also want to look at your condo’s declaration, by-laws or rules for any provisions that:

  • Prohibit noises at certain times;
  • Prohibit certain activities at certain times;
  • Prohibit interfering with the ability of a neighbour to enjoy their property.

In addition to your declaration, by-laws, and rules, section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (“the Act”) currently prohibits a person from allowing a condition to exist or to carry on activity in a unit or in the common elements if it is likely to damage the property or injure someone. This may apply if another owner is keeping a pet that is dangerous, such as a poisonous snake or another reptile.

Section 117 will soon be amended to prohibit anyone from creating unreasonable noise that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to another resident.

It is important to note that the amendments to section 117 described above are not currently part of the Act. When these amendments become law, this prohibition will apply to all condo corporations.

Under section 17 of the Condominium Act, 1998, condominium corporations are required to enforce the provisions of the Act, declaration, by-laws, and rules of the condo. If an owner does not comply with the Act, declaration, or the by-laws or rules, legal action may be taken.

We recommend that you take these steps in sequence (where appropriate) until your issue is resolved.

1. Understand your rights and obligations

It is likely that your condo’s declaration, by-laws or rules addresses pets. It is important that you review your condo corporation’s declarations and rules to understand your rights and obligations in regards to owning and/or taking care of your pet.

The previous tab “Step #2 – Legal Considerations” is a guide for what you should review and consider when determining whether you need to move forward to step 2.

2. Notify the condominium corporation of your concern

Your next step is to communicate your concerns to your condo manager or, if your condo is self-managed, the board. You can do this in person, over the phone, or by email. However, you will usually be requested to put your concerns in writing for the condo’s records.

Usually, your condo manager or board will, on your behalf, contact the resident whose pet is causing the issue.

If the issue is not resolved by notifying your condominium corporation, proceed to step 3.

3. Follow up in writing

If you have already expressed your concern to the condo manager or board, you may wish to follow up with your board in writing. You should keep a copy of the letter or email that you send, and make note of the day that you sent it for future reference.

You can use the letter template on the How-to guide and letter templates page to communicate with your board or manager.

What if the self-help tools don’t resolve my issues?

There are further steps you can take if you’ve tried the steps above and still have an issue. These steps include private mediation, arbitration, and/or other legal actions.

Need more help?

Mediation and arbitration are effective ways to resolve disputes where the parties are unable to reach a resolution themselves. Mediation and arbitration are commonly used to help resolve difficult condo disputes. Mediation and arbitration are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Under section 132 (4) of the Condominium Act, 1998, all condo corporations in the province are deemed to have a provision in their declaration which says that disputes regarding the declaration, by-laws or rules must be filed for mediation or arbitration. Your condo corporation may also have a by-law that establishes the procedure that must be followed in the event of a dispute.

If you have been asked to participate in a mediation or arbitration, you are likely legally required to participate.

If you want to try mediation or arbitration for an unresolved issue, you will need to find a mediator or arbitrator who can assist you. You can search for a mediator or arbitrator online and through organizations that provide ADR services, such as the ADR Institute of Ontario.

Mediation

Mediation is a process where a neutral facilitator tries to bring the parties to a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is the preferred approach because it’s often less costly and it gives the parties an opportunity to collaborate on finding a solution that everyone is comfortable with.

Arbitration

If mediation fails, binding arbitration is the next step. Arbitration is a process where an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) conducts a hearing and makes a ruling on the issues in the dispute. The parties involved in the dispute bring evidence to this hearing and then the arbitrator makes a binding decision. There are some cases where an arbitration decision can successfully be appealed to court.

Further legal action

If you are considering legal action against a neighbour or your condo corporation, you may wish to talk to a lawyer or paralegal. It is recommended that you try mediation and/or arbitration before taking a dispute to court.