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Montreal SPCA defends tenant being evicted for having a pet

On Wednesday, the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) filed a writ of intervention with the housing tribunal (TAL) to plead in favour of two tenants opposing the clause in their lease prohibiting them from owning animals in their dwelling.

Last December, the owner of a Montreal apartment applied to the TAL for an order forcing his tenant to comply with the clause in her lease prohibiting pets, forcing her to give up her cat and dog.

In March, he amended his application to make it an eviction application, according to a summary of the case obtained by The Canadian Press.

The tenant in question countered in April with a separate application seeking cancellation of the clause in her lease on the grounds that it was contrary to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and, therefore, abusive and unreasonable.

Although the ban on having animals in a dwelling has already been the subject of decisions by the TAL, Sophie Gaillard, Director of Animal Protection and Legal and Government Affairs at the Montreal SPCA, believes that, in this case, there is a "unique opportunity" to intervene. She points out that the case is in the public interest because it affects tens of thousands of tenants.

"What's interesting is that the TAL asked to hear the tenant's lawyer on the question of the legal validity of clauses prohibiting pets," she told The Canadian Press in an interview. "These clauses have a direct impact on us as a shelter and given our role in protecting animals."

The Montreal SPCA is continuing its fight to allow tenants to keep pets in spite of 'no pets' clauses for tenants.

Gaillard pointed out that the ban on pets is the cause of a very large number of animal abandonments, starting with the lease renewal period, which begins in March.

In its application to the TAL, the organization states that 16 per cent of all boarders at the SPCA are abandoned because they have moved.

"On average, more than one animal a day is abandoned because of a move; 401 animals were abandoned and entrusted to the SPCA for this reason in 2022," it reads.

For several years now, the SPCA has been campaigning for the ban on animals in residential accommodations to be abolished.

Three petitions, the most recent of which was signed by 33,000 people, were followed last May by Bill 494 tabled by the Quebec Solidaire MNA Andrés Fontecilla.

The idea of intervening in a case at the TAL, in parallel with the study and hoped-for adoption of the bill, is a way for the SPCA "to attack the problem on two fronts," in the hope that one of these two avenues will lead to an end to the ban.

Citing article 898.1 of the Civil Code, which states that animals are sentient beings, the SPCA believes that people cannot dispose of their pets as they would of movable property.

Being forced to give up a pet in order to occupy a dwelling is "something so difficult for tenants," said Gaillard. "It's essentially forcing them to part with a member of their family."

Once the application has been lodged, the parties involved can oppose the SPCA's intervention.

Otherwise, the organization will be called to testify before the TAL.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 7, 2023. Top Stories

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