While most condominium residents accept the limitations that
come with condominium living, there are always some who refuse to
live by the rules. This is particularly true when it comes to
Many condominium corporations restrict the type and number of pets
permitted in residential condominium units. Some condominiums
prohibit pets altogether. These rules, of course, are subject to
valid and legitimate human rights considerations.
Enforcement of pet restrictions has resulted in countless
disputes and lawsuits. We are beginning to see a new trend emerge
in pet enforcement matters. We have seen an increase in residents
trying to keep pets, in contravention of the governing documents,
by claiming their pet is a service or therapy animal and therefore,
whose eviction would offend human rights legislation. For-profit
websites have even sprung up selling equipment and documents which
identify and "certify" any pet as a service animal.
The recent case of Simcoe Condominium Corporation No. 89 v.
Dominelli is a good illustration of the problem. The unit
owner and his girlfriend who resided in the unit had a dog which
did not comply with the condominium's 25-pound weight
restriction for pets. The unit owner refused to remove the dog,
claiming that its removal would be contrary to the Ontario Human
Rights Code. Initially the owner's girlfriend stated that
the dog was a service dog which worked with autistic children. When
the condominium pointed out that this did not constitute a service
dog for the residents of the union, the owner then claimed that the
dog was a "service/therapy" dog that supported the
"emotional needs" of his girlfriend.
The judge refused to accept a human rights exemption and ordered
the owners to remove the dog for two reasons: (1) the owner failed
to establish that his girlfriend had a disability within the
meaning of the Human Rights Code and (2) even if the owner's
girlfriend did have a disability, the owner failed to establish
that a dog weighing more than 25 pounds was necessary to meet her
disability-related needs. The owner was ordered to pay $45,000 to
the corporation for legal costs. The owner could have avoided a
significant amount of stress and expense if he had simply complied
with the rules and removed the dog when asked to do so.
Managers and boards should have a protocol in place setting out
what is required to qualify a pet as a service or therapy animal
for purposes of human rights and accessibility requirements. The
protocol should require the owner or person making the request to
provide a letter from their treating physician which confirms that
the person has a disability and that the specific pet is required
to meet the resident's disability-related needs.
Service dog impersonation has become so significant that British
Columbia has enacted legislation to deal with "fake"
service dogs. The B.C. Guide Dog and Service Dog Act, sets
out a process for certifying dogs as official service animals. In
order to be certified as a service animal, the dog must either pass
a test or be trained by a recognised organisation such as the
International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs
International. Dogs and individuals with disabilities are certified
together, as a "service dog team". Once certified, the
service dog team has the same rights of access as individuals not
accompanied by a dog. Individuals can face a fine of up to $3,000
for fraudulently claiming that their animal is a service dog or
that they are part of a service dog team.
British Columbia amended its Strata Property Act to
incorporate the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act, which suggests
that the new legislation is directed, at least in part, at
condominium residents. Only time will tell if British
Columbia's legislation is able to prevent condominium residents
from falsely claiming their pets are service dog.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that courts will generally support and uphold decisions of condominium directors because they are better positioned than judges to make decisions pertaining to their buildings.
According to the city bylaws in Calgary, the grading of lots for new buildings must be done properly so that the water never flows toward the new building or any other nearby properties, but away from those buildings.
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