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As pet owners, we love our pets. As a result, introducing new pet bylaws to pet owners can be tricky for condo boards. However, with a clear understanding of Section 58 of the Condominium Act, you can successfully pass new pet bylaws with little opposition.
The Condo Act and Pet Bylaws
Your biggest challenge for new bylaws tends to center around rules not in line with the Condo Act. As a result, you should pass reasonable laws that follow the Ontario Human Rights Code. Boards face less owner opposition if your new rules either:
- Promote the safety, security, or welfare of the owners and of the property and assets of the corporation; or
- Prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units, or the assets of the corporation
Therefore, rules that fail to meet one of these criteria can easily become invalid.
Passing the Reasonableness Test
The ultimate test for reasonable bylaws or amendments, including pet bylaws, lies in whether owners challenge them or not. Hence, new pet bylaws should only refer to specific problems, without restrictive, or broad regulations introduced. The reasoning must be fair, while also providing a solution that resolves the problem. Once you get too broad or restrictive odds for owner opposition increase.
For example, when addressing pets soiling common areas, a ban on dogs isn’t the answer. Instead, pet bylaws would address the pet owner’s actions and include provisions dictating they must clean up any messes made by their pet. In the case where severe damage occurs, the condo should include a provision that owners pay related fees to restore the damages.
Further to the above example, including a rule regarding nuisance pets helps protect against repeat offenders. A provision noting the board can request removal of a nuisance pet makes it more likely owners comply with rules. This bad behaviour is usually on the part of the owner. While many might find this unfair, you do have the right to include such a provision. This only relates to offenses which must be listed within the declaration. Common reasons would be ongoing property damage, messes not being cleaned or aggressive behaviour.
Building on the pet nuisance issue, introducing leashing and supervision rules help manage aggressive or unwanted behaviour. Many dog owners forget that just because they love their dog, not everyone does. As a result, unwanted behaviour such as “friendly” barking, or jumping up on neighbours in greeting should be discouraged. In fact, some condo pet bylaws even restrict the dog size with great success.
Adhering to Ontario Human Rights
According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, condo corporations have a duty to accommodate people with any degree of mental or physical disability. As such, rules must avoid wording that could appear discriminatory in nature. Keeping in mind many people have therapeutic pets of many varying kinds, each case has to be considered based on individual circumstances. Therefore, all pet bylaws should include wording to protect owners requiring “therapy utility animals”.
When your board takes the time to familiarize themselves with Condo Act regulations, you can avoid owner/board conflict when introducing new pet bylaws.
CPO Management Inc. has been working with condominium corporations across the GTA for over 10 years. They offer Toronto property management services to ensure boards adhere to and enforce condo regulations and bylaws, including pet bylaws, in compliance with the Condominium Act of Ontario. Reach out to us today.