Legal advice from a local professional


by Cailen Swain

I know the last thing that students are thinking about is the law and the legal system, but it is important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities.

Here are some common legal scenarios students find themselves in.

My landlord won’t let me have pets. Is this legal?

A landlord does have the right to refuse a perspective tenant because they own a pet, however any clause in a tenancy agreement that prohibits pets is considered void.

For this you can refer to s. 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act, which governs relations between landlords and tenants of all types of rental housing in Ontario. S. 14 says, “A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.” Practically speaking it means that a landlord can legally ask a prospective tenant not to bring in pets, but they have no legal recourse if the tenant decides to ignore that request.

You cannot legally be evicted solely for having a pet in breach of the tenancy agreement. It is important to note that where the rental unit is part of a condominium complex, there may be a condominium bylaw that bars pets.

Condominium owners have greater rights than landlords or tenants of units that are not condominiums, and they would be able to bring an application to force a tenant to remove the pet.

You can still run into issues with your pets in a rental unit, though. If the pet causes damage to the property, is inherently dangerous (ie, a poisonous snake), causes serious interference with the reasonable enjoyment of other tenants, or causes the landlord or other tenants a serious allergic reaction, then the landlord may bring an application for eviction to the Landlord and Tenant Board. Another consideration is local by-laws.

These define what animals are considered pets, how many you are allowed to have, etc. For example, the City of Waterloo BY-LAW NO. 09 –047, s. 5 states that, “No person shall keep felids (Cats) except the felids domestinus (domestic cat), or Canid (Dogs) except the canis domesticus (domestic dog).” (

Can I sublet my room for the holidays/summer?

Yes. With the exceptions of social housing units and superintendents’ units, almost all tenancies can be sublet or assigned.

It is important to differentiate between subletting (where the original tenant intends to return to reoccupy the unit) and assignment (where the original tenant does not intend to return to the unit).

The landlord and tenant have different rights and responsibilities in a sublet or an assignment situation.

In a sublet situation the landlord can refuse a potential subtenant but only for a good reason such as a failed reference check. The process for subletting is fairly straightforward: the tenant makes a request to the landlord to sublet (the tenant may be on the hook for any out-of-pocket expenses that the landlord incurs as a result of the sublet, ie the cost of a background check), the landlord may interview the prospective subtenant, and take an application as if the subtenant were a new tenant.

It is important to note that in a sublet situation the original tenant remains responsible for the payment of rent and all other obligations of the tenancy.

Also note that it is illegal to sublet a room or unit for more than the lawful rent, to collect a fee for subletting, or to require payment of goods or services as a condition of the sublet.

Visit for more information or contact Cailen Swain at 289- 218-6846.


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