Demystifying the rights of residential seniors

Pets in private seniors’ residences

Published on October 5, 2023 by Estephany Fernandez Suero. Journal Le Canada Français, page A-20.

It has often been shown that pets can bring considerable benefits to the elderly, both in terms of physical and mental health. When moving into a private seniors’ residence, some people will want to bring along their existing pet companion, while others may want to get their own, especially to counter loneliness.

Building owners may allow pets in their units, sometimes under certain conditions. However, a landlord also has the right to refuse to allow tenants to own an animal. To find out what their rights are, tenants should refer to their lease and building regulations, since they are contractually bound to both documents.

If the presence of animals is expressly forbidden in the lease or building regulations, the tenant must respect this clause, even if the animal causes no harm to the dwelling or other tenants. It is therefore essential to take the time to read the lease conditions before signing.

In the case of a lease that makes no mention of this, the tenant could, in theory, own an animal. In cases where the presence of animals is accepted, the tenant must still comply with the other obligations arising from his rental contract, in particular, to use the dwelling in a suitable manner, not to disturb the enjoyment of other tenants in the building and to respect health standards.


Following the sale of a private seniors’ residence, some new owners will want to modify certain elements, such as the right to own a pet. It should be noted that becoming the new owner of a building does not exempt the owner from respecting current leases to which the tenants are bound.

The lease cannot therefore be modified at any time, and it is only at the time of renewal that the owner can propose a modification. Tenants will therefore be able to refuse this modification, if they so wish. The tenant will have to prove that the change to the animal prohibition is abusive.

Building owners may allow pets in their units, sometimes under certain conditions.

Estephany Fernandez Suero

CAAP Montérégie


Certain exceptions exist and may allow a tenant to have a pet, even if the lease prohibits it. Indeed, several judges of the Administrative Housing Tribunal have granted this right because of the effects associated with pet therapy. However, this exception should not be understood as a simple avenue that is automatically exercised. It’s not enough to present an opinion that cites generally recognized benefits of having a pet on an individual. It is the tenant’s responsibility to prove the unreasonableness of this clause for his or her health, by means of a detailed medical opinion.

For more information or assistance with your lease rights and obligations, contact CAAP Montérégie at 450 347-0670, ext. 104.

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