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Ask the Lawyer: 3 Readers worried about their service dogs in condominium communities prohibiting dogs

This week two readers have similar issues with their service dog in a condominium — and the third reader has a unique situation. In all three situations, the condominium corporation does not allow dogs. Richard Hoffman answers the three readers.

Reader Question 1: “I was living in a condo with my service dog. I became very sick and had to go on an extended stay to the hospital. I could not take my service dog to the hospital. Now, because my dog was at home without me, they have decided to move to throw me out. Can they just throw me out because my service dog was left at home when I had someone caring for him? I don’t know when I will be able to go home.”

Reader Question 2: “I have a doctor’s letter stating that he recommend I keep my dog for mental health reasons. I live in a no pet condo in North bay. Condominium #20. I submitted my letter to them but they want more info on my health and proof that my dog is a certified service animal. Do I have a legal right to keep my dog. I have been living here for 7 years and I bought my dog a year ago. I have recently lost 5 members of my family and I am very depressed.”

Reader Question 3: “I live in a condo with a “no dogs” bylaw. Can I have my dog classified as a therapy dog due to my suffering from depression and anxiety and then be able to keep him? He has been living in the condo with me for 5 years.

Richard Hoffman previously answered yet another reader with a similar issue. Please see the feature here>>

Do you have a question for Richard? Please reach out to us through our contact form>>

 

Service dogs are vital for some people. For condominiums prohibiting dogs, written authorization from a doctor or other documentation may be required.

 

Richard Hoffman Answers: “These are difficult questions to answer because there is not enough information to understand exactly what the situations are.  There has to be more to this story than we  are hearing here. We need to know a number of facts: 1) whether or not the reader is a tenant or an owner in the building; 2) whether his/her dog was causing a nuisance; 3)Was there any previous correspondence from the Condominium Corporation regarding complaints about this dog.”

Regarding Reader 1:

“It does not make any sense that while a resident was in hospital and their service dog remained in the unit and cared for, the Condo would take steps to evict the resident.

Normally, in situations where a dog is causing a nuisance, the condominium corporation can make the decision that the pet be removed. However, It is only in the most extreme circumstances that  a condominium corporation can get an order forcing a sale of a unit to have an owner removed from the building. We need more facts in order to understand what the situation is.”

Regarding Reader 2&3: “It is entirely reasonable for the condo to more information than simply a Doctor’s letter. I think their request that they have proof that this is a certified service dog is appropriate.”

Richard Hoffman also referred the readers to his previous answer to another reader [found here>>]:

“Despite the fact that the condominium has a no pet rule, I think there will be an exception made for any dog that is considered to be a service dog. If you can provide a letter from a doctor advising that the owner requires the use of a service dog, the board will not have an issue allowing a service dog in the unit.  It would be the same as if anybody required a seeing eye dog.”

 

RICHARD P. HOFFMAN

Richard Hoffman has been a member of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP since 1992, practicing in the area of condominium law. He has represented condominium corporations and unit owners through all stages of the litigation process and at all levels of Ontario Courts (Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and Court of Appeal). He is well experienced in handling all types of condominium litigation, from applications to enforcing compliance with declarations, by-laws or rules, to handling multi-million dollar claims for budget misrepresentation. He has also advised condominium corporations of various sizes on all facets of condominium law.

Richard is presently a member of the Canadian Condominium Institute and regularly lectures on contract and agency law in the condominium context at Humber College, as well, he is a regular contributor to various condominium magazines and has contributed to the condominium section of the Toronto Star.

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