Can “Pet-Free” Condos Pass A Rule Allowing Cats In Canada?
There was an interesting ruling recently, from the Condo Authority Tribunal. It had to do with the instance of a condo corporation that previously hadn’t enforced its pet prohibition against cats and was trying to find a way to bring it back into compliance.
Essex condo corporation is an animal-free condo, with a provision in its declaration prohibiting all animals in common areas and inside the units. Signs were displayed at the entrance of the building with this information and new owners were informed of this.
This prohibition against dogs has been consistently enforced, whereas the one against cats has been inconsistently enforced. As a result, cats have occasionally been allowed to live in their owners’ homes. To provide further clarification, it should be noted that out of 319 units, 39 of them housed cats. At one point, this lead to some owners of apartments who allowed dogs requesting a break as well.
The argument that since cats were allowed to be kept, the corporation should allow dogs and create an environment with some new cats led it to this conclusion. In compliance with the demand, the corporation chose to bring its rules into order by granting the existent cats access, but not to bring any new cats, so dogs could come too.
A condo owner contested this new rule on the basis that:
- He bought the condo thinking it was pet-free
- He felt the ruling was unreasonable
- The declaration stated that “No pet, animal, livestock or fowl will be permitted or kept upon any part of the common elements or in any unit”.
- The rule was inconsistent with the declaration.
- Governing documents
Figuring out how to bring the corporation into compliance with its declaration of not allowing cats was the tricky part because the corporation had tolerated it for so long.
Despite consideration of an immediate ban on cats (without a transition period), the corporation feared cat owners could successfully challenge this as unfair, given the company’s lack of enforcement over the years. It also considered having a time-limited transition period such as a 5-year transition period. It seems like that’s been ruled out too.
Initially, a rule was adopted that prohibited any future cat additions, with only the current cats being able to stay.
A cat is eligible for legacy status when one of the following are fulfilled:
- know the name of their cat
- show a picture
- agree not to get a new cat
- agree to have the cat stay in their unit
According to the Tridel Condo Authority, this transition rule was permissible under the circumstance as it served as a bridge to the resident complying with the no pets provision. In this situation, the condo authority worked to balance the declaration’s stipulations while taking into account the rights of residents who were allowed to have cats. In order to facilitate compliance with existing regulations and the existing pets in a condo building, legacy cats are restricted to existing one, and legacy cats are restricted to units and not units, the regulation has shown its intention to move back to compliance.