The Montreal SPCA has filed a declaration of intervention with the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL) to have its perspective heard in a dispute between a tenant and her landlord over the validity of the clause in her lease prohibiting animals in the unit.
For over a decade, the Montreal SPCA has been fighting relentlessly to ban no-pet clauses due to their devastating effects on both animals and Quebec families, more than half of which now include a companion animal. On May 25, in response to the SPCA’s sustained efforts over the past few years, Bill 494, An Act to amend the Civil Code to render without effect the clauses of a lease of a dwelling tending to prohibit companion animals, was introduced at the National Assembly.
This is a problem that does indeed impact residents of Côte Saint-Luc who are told they cannot have a dog or cat in their apartment. Only pet owners and animal lovers can understand the cruelty of this act. I could never move into a place that would not allow me to bring my beloved cat.
I appreciate the MNAs for Québec Solidaire for bringing this motion forward. I am sure that our D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Elisabeth Prass, who has always supported our CSL Cats Committee, will speak up on this as well.
“In addition to tackling the issue of animals in housing on the legislative front, by supporting this bill and encouraging the public to do the same, we also wish to submit to the courts several legal arguments challenging the validity of no-pet clauses," explainedSophie Gaillard, Director of Animal Advocacy and Legal and Government Affairs at the Montreal SPCA. "More specifically, we consider this type of clause to be abusive, unreasonable and contrary to certain fundamental rights set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
“As an animal shelter directly affected by the problem of mass abandonment caused by no-pet clauses but also as the largest animal protection organization in Quebec, the Montreal SPCA would like to have its voice heard on this issue at the Tribunal administratif du logement.”
In its intervention, the Montreal SPCA will argue, among other things, that the clause prohibiting animals in the residential lease of the tenant involved in the dispute:
- Violates the new status of animals as “sentient beings,” granted to them in the Civil Code of Québec in 2015, insofar as it forces the tenant to get rid of her animals—a dog and a cat—as if they were any other movable property, when in fact they are sentient beings to whom she has a deep emotional attachment and to whom she has obligations;
- Violates the right to privacy set out in section 5 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to make fundamentally personal and private decisions without undue external influence. The choice to live with an animal companion, often perceived as a family member in their own right, is an inherently personal decision that must be protected;
- Is abusive and unreasonable, especially given the shortage of affordable housing, which seriously undermines the balance of power between landlords and tenants. Forcing a tenant to give up her animals in order to keep her residential unit is completely disproportionate to any hypothetical harm to the landlord or neighbours that such a clause is presumably intended to avoid.
“Every year, thousands of Quebecers are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to give up their animal, whom they consider a member of the family, in order to find affordable housing," points out Gaillard. "The current state of the Quebec rental market is exacerbating this already difficult situation, especially for low-income individuals,” . “Moving is one of the main reasons animals are abandoned in Quebec shelters. On average, more than one animal a day is abandoned at the Montreal SPCA for this very reason.”
Representing the Montreal SPCA in this case is Marie-Claude St-Amant, a partner at Melançon Marceau Grenier Cohen, LLP, who also chairs the SPCA’s board of directors.