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Q: We live in a home divided into two suites, upstairs and downstairs. We have two cats and gerbils as allowed by our landlord. The upstairs tenant has two cats and a labrador retriever. I recently asked the landlord if we could get a small dog, under 10 lbs. She refused our request and later sent us a letter saying that we are not allowed to add any other animals to the household, and if our current pets were to die, we are not allowed to replace them. She has also told me that she was leery of letting us have our cats, and did not want to let the upstairs tenants have a dog but felt pressured into it. My question is, if the upstairs tenants are allowed two cats and a dog on their lease, does our landlord have any reason to deny us also having a dog?
A: Pets again! The courts have held that a 'No Pets' clause in a residential tenancy agreement isn't enforceable because it is simply too broad. The classic case is that 'No Pets' would mean no goldfish, and this would be absurd. The state of the legislation is that the landlord and tenant can negotiate if, when, and what pets are allowed, and the landlord can even restrict certain sizes, species, and breeds – as long as it is reasonable. If a tenancy agreement has a no-pets clause and the tenant gets a pet, and the landlord objects, the landlord must give the tenant a breach letter. This is a letter that sets out what the landlord objects to, why, and how the situation must be resolved. The tenant then has to get rid of the pet in a reasonable period of time. If'n the tenant doesn't do what the landlord says has gotta' be done, the landlord can start the process to getting the tenant out of the rental premises altogether. This involves issuing the tenant a Notice to End the Tenancy for cause. Things tend to get complicated when this happens. Things tend to get messy and expensive for everybody. Best to cut a deal with the landlord up front before you bring in any pets. BTW, my favorite pet case is the Caimans case (close cousins of the crocodile). A tenant kept 2 full grown Caimans in a concrete high rise apartment. Two maintenance guys discovered these prehistoric eating machines when they entered the suite to do some repairs. It nearly scared both of them to death. The tenant had turned the apartment into a tropical paradise for our crocodile cousins. The tenant had installed a Canadian Tire sized aquatic centre, complete with tropical trees and plants, and he kept the joint at a balmy 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The tenant was feeding the crocs chickens and rabbits that he was buying from farmers in the Fraser Valley. For nourishment and entertainment, the tenant would toss in rabbits and chickens, and the Caiman would seize the prey in their jaws and take the petrified snacks down into a death roll in the pool. (It turns out that the crocodile family doesn’t bite off heads and body parts in order to kill its prey – rather it seizes the prey in its jaws, aka death grip, and then takes it into water for a death roll where the prey drowns. Then the prey gets swallowed at leisure). For the result of the Caiman story you’ll have to sort through the archives on this site, lest I digress.


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