Written by Jackie Marchildon
Finding a good rental unit for a decent price is hard enough as it is without the added task of finding one that is pet-friendly, too. I can accept that not everyone loves dogs as much as I do, but does that mean they can deny me a nice apartment, charge me a fee or evict me?
If you're a pet owner in Ontario, chances are you've heard somewhere that landlords can't really tell you that you aren't allowed to have a dog or cat in the unit. I myself tell people that all the time; and while it's mostly true, it's not really helpful advice.
It is true in Ontario that a "no pets" clause in a lease is void (unless you're renting in a condo building where the condo's declaration forbids pets). So, if you keep quiet about your pets, sign the lease and move in with your fluffy family, your landlord can't kick you out just because you signed that lease. Landlords can, however, decide not to rent to you because you have a pet. So either you accept that and solely look for pet-friendly places, or you lie and hope for the best.
Lying doesn't exactly lead to a positive landlord-tenant relationship. While landlords cannot evict you for disregarding the "no pets" clause, they can evict you if they are able to prove that your pet is dangerous, causing damage or interfering with the enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants. You can also be evicted if your pet is causing someone to have an allergic reaction.
It works a little differently in British Columbia and Alberta. If a lease states no pets, it means no pets. If you disregard that part of your lease, your landlord can consider you in breach of your agreement and you can be evicted.
In Ontario it's illegal for landlords to ask for deposits for anything other than last month's rent. I've seen puppies ruin all sorts of things from walls to carpets to stairs, so I can understand why landlords might not be too keen to take in an unknown pet without some financial reassurance.
In Alberta, landlords can charge a non-refundable pet fee. This fee takes into account actual pet-related damages that could occur. It must be a reasonable amount. B.C. landlords can also ask for a pet damage deposit at the start of a tenancy but it cannot be more than half of one month's rent, regardless of how many pets the tenant has. This sets an exact amount and leaves nothing to a landlord's discretion, but given the average rental price in a city like Vancouver, for instance, the deposit can end up being a hefty one.
As a dog owner myself, I might argue this could be the way to go. I know we'd all like to avoid extra deposits and fees, but maybe landlords in cities like Toronto would be more open to allowing pets if they had some financial reassurance.
On the other hand, why should pet owners have to pay a fee or deposit? There are many other types of damages for which landlords don't get to take deposits -- they can't ask for a deposit if they think you'll leave water running in the bathroom or if they think you look accident prone.
There's an argument to be made that my eight-year-old dog makes less mess and destroys less stuff than I did as a child. I wrote the names of all my crushes on the windowsill in my bedroom. My brother crashed through a wall while trying to slam dunk on our mini basketball net. My sister's bed frame was on wheels and she would run and jump on her bed and attempt to slide across the hardwood floor which, naturally, gouged cuts into it.
The list goes on.
Regrettably, pet ownership doesn't fall under the Human Rights Code, and so I admit it's not really a fair comparison. But still.
So, where does this leave you as a pet owner and renter? Well, truthfully, probably right where you started, but hopefully now you at least know your rights and what to expect during your next search.
Read the original story at YPNextHome.ca.
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Dogs require more attention, time and energy than cats do, so if you don't enjoy walks or hikes in the outdoors, or can't imagine getting up on cold winter mornings to take your pet out to potty, a cat may be more your style. Breed characteristics differ, so if you're looking for a lapdog, you should look into a less-active breed. If you are very active outdoors and plan to bring a pet along, a hardier, higher energy breed is a better fit. Your chances of having a long-lasting, wonderful relationship with a pet increase dramatically when you give serious thought to the type of animal that best suits you.
Behavior problems are the No. 1 reason dogs are relinquished to animal shelters. From the day you bring your puppy or adult dog home, you should begin teaching her commands such as come, sit, stay, and down. A puppy should begin formal training at eight weeks, and if you adopt an adult dog with no obedience training, you should enroll her in a class right away. It's also good idea to take your dog through a refresher course every few years, or when you need help with the inevitable behavioral glitch that will pop up as she ages.
As I discussed in my video "What You Need to Know Before Bringing Home a New Pet," it's very important for each member of the family to be on the same page when it comes to what your pet is and isn't allowed to do in your home. If one family member lets the dog bark at outside noises, but another family member corrects the behavior, you confuse the dog. If you don't mind the kitty drinking from the bathroom sink but your husband does, decide which way it's going to be and stick with it.
This is an excellent way to make sure your dog views treats as special rather than expected. It's also helpful in keeping your pet from becoming overweight or obese.
This is especially important for puppies. Lack of proper socialization can result in inappropriate fears, aggressive behavior, general timidity, and a host of other behavior problems that are difficult to extinguish once a dog is mature.
Exercise and play time are necessary for your pet's mental and physical well-being. If you don't give your dog opportunities to be physically active, or if you don't encourage exercise for your kitty and find ways to make it happen, you may well end up with a bored, destructive, overweight pet.
Your dog or cat needs your help to stay mentally stimulated. This is important not only to discourage destructive behavior in younger pets, but also to keep your older pet's brain sharp.
Pets get lonely and depressed just like people do when they spend too much time alone. Cats are generally better on their own, but dogs and especially puppies don't do well left to their own devices for extended periods of time. If you find yourself away from home for extended periods, make arrangements with a friendly neighbor, relative, dog-sitter or a pet daycare center to give your pup the time and attention you're not able to.
Your dog or cat is a part of the family. If she's a kitty, she needs her own litter box in a quiet, out-of-the way corner, a scratching post or tree, her own toys, and a nice cozy spot for napping. Your dog needs his own cozy spot as well, preferably a crate, a comfy bed that's his alone and a selection of appropriate toys. Understand that in households with pets, accidents will happen.
Train your pet by setting him up to succeed. There's a reason for everything your dog or cat does, and the reason rarely if ever involves being deliberately disobedient. You should never physically punish your pet. It brings the animal pain and fear, and it gains you nothing. Your job as a mistake-proof pet parent is to figure out the reason behind the behavior, learn how to encourage what you want to see more of and how to discourage inappropriate behavior. With dogs, this usually involves additional training or behavior modification. With kitties, it involves arranging your environment to discourage behavior you want to extinguish.
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