Rebeka Breder: Legal Rights When Living in a Condo with Your Emotional Support Animal

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In British Columbia, the Strata ownership law governs the relationship between strata and their owners / tenants. This law says very little about what a stratum can or cannot do in relation to pets. All it says is that if you are living with a pet in a condominium at the time a pet ban / restriction is enacted, you and your pet will be grandfathered.

Common issues between strata and owners / tenants include requests to remove pets by a certain date, with owners / tenants being targeted due to the size or breed of their dog (especially ‘pit bulls’). ), and some pet owners being harassed while other pets building owners are left alone.

A growing number of disputes revolve around keeping emotional support animals when regulations restrict or prohibit animals.

Section 8 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code prohibits strata from enforcing or enforcing their regulations in a manner that discriminates against a person because of, among other things, a handicap.

In a recent BC Human Rights Tribunal ruling, the court clarified the law correctly and gradually when it ruled in favor of a young girl to keep her emotional support dog despite strata settlements. containing a ban on pets.

It is up to the person claiming the disability to prove that (a) they have a disability, and that (b) not having their pet would have a negative effect on them because of that disability.

In order to prove a disability, it is essential to have a doctor’s report confirming the disability and explaining what that disability entails. The person’s own testimony about their disability is also taken into account.

It is also essential to have a doctor’s report that confirms that keeping the animal for emotional support can improve and ameliorate the individual’s disability. It is also a good idea to ask the doctor to explain How? ‘Or’ What the animal helps with disability, for example, by reducing stress or blood pressure. The testimony of the individual about the importance of the animal to him is also important.

It is then up to the strata to raise a defense which shows that there is a reasonable justification for imposing a ban on pets despite any negative impact on the individual.

The bad news is that pets are still considered personal property (i.e. property). The good news is that although pets are “property,” courts and tribunals recognize that pets are a special type of property.

Chris Barber / flickr

In the context of condominium living, the courts have recognized that the law and societal attitudes have evolved to give rise to new concepts as to what are reasonable rules for community living and to a greater appreciation of the how pets can appropriately fit into a tightly knit community. .

Some people believe they have the right to buy in an animal-free environment and that it is reasonable to expect every buyer to obey these rules, including a rule that prohibits pets altogether.

The courts have recognized that life, especially in today’s society, is not always that simple. There may be changes in the circumstances of unit owners in which it might be reasonable for them to keep a pet. A person ages and may lose a spouse, and for the first time in his life begins to live alone. Should this person be forced to relinquish their condominium if they are trying to avoid depression or loneliness by acquiring a four-legged companion?

Or a unit owner may have an accident or illness and becomes housebound or in a wheelchair and at that point begins to feel a need for comfort that can be provided by a pet. Should this person be penalized for now having a pet?

Supporters of regulations banning pets also rely on the allergy argument (that is, some people are allergic to pets). This argument can be contradicted by reasonable restrictions rather than an outright ban. This is especially true when the ventilation system is a modern system that prevents the spread of antigens from one unit to another or when the animal has not interfered with the use or enjoyment of others as a whole. of condominiums, which has been recognized by the courts. .

Wikipedia / Axsobel

Another question that a person should consider when faced with a stratum issue regarding their pet is whether the stratum board has followed its own bylaws when deciding what action to take against it. the owner of the animal. Review the statutes to see what kind of procedures the stratum council should follow. Have the minutes of the meeting been taken? Was there the appropriate quorum when making the decision regarding the “accused” pet? Has the vote been recorded? Courts can overrule a stratum’s decision on the basis of procedural grounds, such as a stratum council not complying with its own regulations.

Pet owners are also wondering about the possibility of meeting with the board of directors of the strata to give their side of the story. Sometimes it is best to wait until you are invited to speak to the stratum board, either in writing or by attending a meeting. According to Strata ownership law, a stratum board must give the landlord or tenant both the details of the complaint, in writing, and a reasonable opportunity to respond to the complaint before impose a fine or require someone to remedy a contravention (i.e. removal of a pet). Otherwise, a court can overturn the decision of the stratum council.

The main thing is that pets are part of the family. A strata owner and / or tenant should familiarize themselves with the strata bylaws before moving into the condominium.

If there is a total pet ban or breed specific restriction, consider whether moving into such a community would be the right fit for you and your beloved furry companion.

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