New Brunswick Officials Under Fire For Pets Policy, Encouraged to Adopt Ontario Model

by Chris on February 27, 2012

A lawmaker in New Brunswick is speaking out about the social development department’s policy on pets.

According to a news report, NDP Leader Dominic Cardy says the department is threatening to evict low-income seniors who won’t give up their beloved pets. Cardy says the policy in unfair, and what’s more, it is not being applied uniformly.

Cardy is calling for the N.B. government to adopt a tenant pet policy similar to Ontario’s, where renters have ample leeway to bring in a pet without fear of eviction, even if the lease contains restrictions on pets.

The Ontario rules provide that a landlord can adopt a “no pets” policy, and if they learn that a person applying to rent an apartment has a pet, the landlord may refuse to rent to that person. 

However, the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act states that any clause in a lease that prohibits pets is void.  This means that once a person becomes a tenant, if they have a pet — even though the lease says pets are not allowed, the landlord cannot evict the tenant just for having the pet.  The landlord can apply to evict a tenant if the pet is causing a problem –making too much noise, damaging the unit, causing an allergic reaction, or the animal or species is considered to be inherently dangerous.

 New Brunswick officials say the pet ban has been in place for decades, and tenants have a chance to see the policy in the rental agreement before they sign a lease for low-income housing, according to the report. One housing ministry official said that in some buildings, pets run free in the halls, and cats urinate in elevators. She told reporters that as a landlord, she feared for the liability that her office would incur if tenants took in multiple pets, or someone had a health and safety issue with the animals being in the building.

Cardy counters these concerns by pointing to the possible health benefits of allowing seniors to keep pets as companions. He says a more permissive policy could reduce what the province pays out for health costs.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie February 28, 2012 at 6:42 am

I think the Pet’s policy in Ontario is asinine. How could you have such a policy that essentially provides a tenant to circumvent any agreement upfront? If I don’t want pets on my property for whatever reason, and it’s been agreed upfront before the lease is signed, why should a landlord now have to deal with a pet after a tenant decides to keep one after moving in? It breaks the entire spirit of contract law! Ontario has got so much crap backwards, I wouldn’t use it as an “example” to follow.
Having said that, I’m fine with any landlord who elects to allow pets upfront. As long as they agree to it and are ok with the increased maintenance that comes with pets, then all is good. There should be no surprises.

Mary February 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

I totally agree with Eddie’s comment. In this age where allergies are increasingly frequent, the Ontario policy makes no sense and the reasoning in New Brunswick also makes no sense. Many seniors also have allergies and why should they be exposed to pets in a building when they moved in with the understanding there was a no pets policy? Should the mental health (allegedly) of a few be prioritized over the physical health of the others?
There is a reason for contract law and if the parties agree there are to be no pets, let’s encourage parties to stick to the terms of their contract.

Clair February 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Allowing tenants to break their contracts regarding pet restrictions is a terrible idea. That said, research does suggest that pets improve both quality of life and general health for their owners (assuming there are no allergies, etc.) (See Calgary Humane Society for some statistics if you want more info.) If Cardy wants to save the province money on health care by encouraging landlords to allow pets, then the province should offer incentives to landlords (at the landlord’s option, of course) to allow pets – this cost would be offset by healthcare savings. If enough landlords have positive experiences with tenants with pets, there will be plenty of housing available for pet owners, and everybody “wins”. To force landlords to accept breaches of contracts about pets, is to place the province’s financial goals above those who are taking the financial risk, doing all the work, and actually providing the service. The ultimate result of such a law would be that landlords afraid of pets would find ways to screen out tenants likely to ever get a pet, and a rise in rents to cover related or perceived costs to the landlord, which will have the opposite effect than the one Cardy intends.

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