Canadian Rental By-Laws for Emotional Support Animals - Part 1

Monday, June 21, 2021

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The by-laws regarding renting to tenants with an emotional support animal (ESA) varies by province in Canada, each one having its own rules and regulations.


Section 5 of the Human Rights Act is in place to protect people with disabilities, including those diagnosed with mental illnesses, from discrimination. Across Canada, there are provincial commissions that work to ensure human rights are being protected. Below is a breakdown on the rules and legislation in place for ESA’s and service animals per province.


Please Note: This information is a representation of provincial commission definitions of laws and terms. This is in no way legal advice. Any questions regarding your provincial ESA laws should be directed to their respective Commissions.




In Alberta, there are two Acts that work together to define and specify ESA regulations.

  • The Service Dogs Actdefines that service dogs must be qualified and trained to assist those with a disability
  • The Blind Persons’ Rights Act – specifies that guide dogs must be specifically trained to assist those who are blind


They also define three other types of animals:

  • Companion Animals (aka. pets) – an animal kept for pleasure
  • Therapy Animals – used for short-term therapeutic reasons
  • Emotional Support Animals – used to provide support for mental and chronic illnesses
    • Unlike service dogs and guide dogs for blind persons, the above three types of animals are not covered by the current Alberta legislation


Both service and guide dogs require training, certification, and government-issued ID cards for identification of the dog(s) and the handler(s).


Alberta landlords cannot charge any additional deposit for pets and the total security deposit cannot exceed one-month’s rent.


British Columbia


In British Columbia, there is the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act.

  • The Act requires guide dogs, service dogs, and their handlers to be certified 
  • Guide and service dogs are legally allowed to live in rental properties and they cannot require a pet damage deposit


Under the current Guide Dog and Service Dog Act, emotional support and therapy animals are not protected in the same way service dogs are. However, human rights laws protect people with disabilities who rely on guide and service dogs, even if the dog is not certified under the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act.


Landlords in BC can charge a half-month’s rent for a pet damage deposit, in addition to any other deposit they require, should a service animal be deemed a pet.




The Manitoba Human Rights Commission mentions that the assistance that service animals provide and for whom they help is evolving.

  • There is no standardized identification or certification of service animals in Manitoba
  • Any animal that is identified as having been trained, including self-trained, to aid someone with a disability, may be considered a service animal
  • If the person relying on the animal can demonstrate that it is necessary for their disability-related treatment program, the animal may be considered a "service animal"


A landlord cannot refuse to rent or charge a pet damage deposit to anyone in need of a service animal. If the pet is not deemed necessary, landlords may charge up to one-month’s rent for a pet damage deposit.




Under the Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord cannot instate a no-pets clause.


One of two conditions must apply for an animal to be considered a service animal:

  1. The animal is easily identifiable as relating to the disability (for example, it is a guide dog or other animal wearing a vest or harness)
  2. Documentation from a regulated health professional confirming the animal is required due to a disability can be provided


Service animals are not considered pets. Additional fees or requirements that apply to pets do not apply to service animals. If it is deemed a pet, the landlord can collect a pet rent that equals one-month's rent; however, it cannot be deemed a security deposit, as these are not allowed in Ontario.




The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code requires people with disabilities to be accommodated.

Service animals are considered to be animals that have received specialized training to aid a person with a disability.

  • The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission will accept and investigate complaints in housing where a complainant gave sufficient medical evidence to establish that an emotional support animal is required in housing
  • If a person does establish a requirement for an emotional support animal, a “no-pets” policy in rental or condominium housing does NOT apply


For animals deemed as a pet, landlords can request a pet deposit that is part of the security deposit. It must be refundable at the end of a tenancy and the entire security deposit cannot exceed one-month’s rent.



Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog, where breaks down the by-laws for Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec.   


SEE ALSO:  A Guide for Students Living Off-Campus

The Team