Did you know that as of the most recent census there were over 25,000 licensed cats and almost 55,000 licensed dogs in Toronto? And that's only those that are legally licensed through the city — not including reptiles, birds, or rodents (the cute, caged variety).
My simple advice to my fluffy-friend-owning clients is this: buy in a condo that accepts pets. You can be sure it accepts them by reading the status certificate or talking to management.
Given Torontonians' affinity for animals — pet regulations in condos are a truly furry affair. As a pet-owning real estate broker myself (with about one in four of my clients being pet owners) I know the struggles of pet ownership in the city all too well. The regulations can be an endemic problem for pet owners, but you can't 'fight the man'...or can you?
Common Pet Regulations in Toronto
The upside of Toronto condos' pet regulations is that very few of them have blanket 'no pet' rules — at my last count, fewer than a dozen. But, for the majority that do accept them they do have specific regulations. These commonly include a cap on the number of pets with a max of two cats and/or dogs (citywide the restriction on all homes is 3 dogs max and 6 pets total), restrictions on certain breeds (especially breeds like Pit Bulls), no breeding, and a maximum size of about 25-40lbs. Then there are the standard, 'neighbourly' rules that simply make sense, like using leashes, picking up after your pet and keeping them from barking excessively.
Are these Regulations Enforceable?
The convoluted answer is yes — and no. While all pet-owning condo residents should strive to make the environment comfortable for all — by picking up after your pet and keeping your dog from barking incessantly — how condos enforce pet rules can vary from building-to-building. Some don't enforce at all, and others are more stringent. The majority of buildings use a verbal or written 'warning' system, using a three-strike strategy. And after three strikes — they'll try to evict your pet from the building. Can they do that? Yes they can, especially if they get lawyers involved. It is a timely process though, and if they win they may also win a monetary settlement along with it. According to Park & Jung LLP Lawyers, “Condominium unit owners should know that not only can the condominium corporations sue them to obtain an order to enforce the rules of the condo and recover legal costs for doing so, but they can also register a lien against their unit.” So they can't legally force you to sell, but if they win the court case you'll have to move or rehome your pet.
What If I Buy a Condo in a No-Pet Building?
So, what happens if you purchase a condo in a blanket ‘no-pet’ building and you have pets, or plan to have them in the future? Some owners will simply live with the pet and hope for the best. But, if you do have a nosy neighbour all 'up in your business' you will likely receive a written notice about an infraction with the condo regulations. Your option is to appeal to the board to lift the pet ban, and failing that to seek legal recourse. As a cat owner I understand that the struggle is real. Also, my cat would simply never tolerate this type of discrimination (well, perhaps against the dogs). But as both a pet owner and broker I know that with about 25% of the market owning pets — condos may be hurting themselves by turning away pet owners. Not only does it stigmatize a condo — it could also hurt property values in the long run.
My simple advice to my fluffy-friend-owning clients is this: buy in a condo that accepts pets. You can be sure it accepts them by reading the status certificate or talking to management. There are so many that do, that it's not worth the battle to buy in one of the few no-pet (period) condos. If you already bought a condo and want a pet that doesn't comply with regulations, try appealing to your condo board (sometimes if you ask they will help you, on a pet-by-pet basis). Your final recourse is taking legal action — which has a fair amount of precedent here in Toronto. This however should be a last resort, as legal battles are timely, expensive and the outcome may not be in your favour. On the whole though, in most condos, the pet restrictions are seldom enforced — particularly if you have a well behaved pet. I was talking to an owner at 95 Lombard recently (a no-pet condo) who was telling me about how many owners have dogs, despite the no-pet rule. And they’re in the process of changing the rules to officially accommodate pets.
To read more about specific legal precedent, check out the following:
YCC No. 26 v. Ramadani (about a 'nuisance' dog) DSCC No. 187 v. Morton (quantity of pets) York Condominium Corporation No. 382 v. Dvorchik,  (dog size) Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation v. Bazilinsky ($40K+ in fines, a property lien and difficult resale) 215 Glenridge Avenue Limited Partnership v. Waddington,  and Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 949 v. Staib,  (blanket no-pets)