Why are "no pet" clauses legal in the US but not in Toronto? At least according to this site, in Toronto you can't disallow pets.

I started thinking of it and its actually a little absurd. Trying to apply the same reasoning to other things. Like disallowing musicians, when really you just don't want noise to bother other tenants. Disallowing frat students because you think they ruin your apartment and bother neighbors. Disallowing X because you believe it will cause Y instead of just disallowing Y.

They are not perfect analogies, but I think the main reason people disallow pets is for damages, and maybe noise. Isn't this discrimination against pet owners?

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    It is not absurd at all. Quite often, proving that "Y" is really happening is hard. ("My dog doesn't leave dog mess anywhere, it must be another dog"; "No one could dislike my music, and anyway I only play quietly after 2 am"; "We never have parties, we spend all day at the library. Your other tenants are lying".) Therefore in seeking to prevent Y it is often easier to prohibit X, where X is an easily measured condition. If a small fraction of the potential customers are upset by this it is of no consequence unless demand for the property is adversely affected.
    – Calchas
    Jun 20 '15 at 18:02
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    So you're saying, we should be allowed to discriminate in whatever fashion, if proving it is legit is hard? While that is a solution to the problem, it has side effects. Your examples are pretty absurd. You think if I was saying, there must have been another dog that left pee daily in my apartment in my 1 year lease, that would be reasonable? All of your edge cases would have to be proven. Saying it is of no consequence is easy for the side that isn't receiving the consequence. Personally, living in Boston, finding an apartment with a dog is a huge consequence. Jun 20 '15 at 19:33
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    @Carlos The point is that you can discriminate for any reason you aren't banned from discriminating for, and there's no general rule that you have to discriminate for some good reason (if I want to discriminate against people who wear wristwatches to their first look at the apartment, I'm allowed to do that). It's a special case of "everything that isn't specifically illegal is legal."
    – cpast
    Jun 20 '15 at 20:21
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    @Carlos Exactly, proving the cases would be hard. Easier not to try. I am sorry that you and your dog cannot find an apartment (is it even reasonable to keep a dog in an apartment anyway?) but in Boston the landlord is entitled to decline to allow her property to be occupied by dogs.
    – Calchas
    Jun 20 '15 at 20:52
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    @Calchas It really just comes down to a smaller selection at a higher price. But its lousy because while my dogs are capable of damage, any damage that they could (but have never) done I would cover. It would just be more reasonable for a landlord to allow me take that responsibility/risk rather than disallowing me completely. Jun 21 '15 at 1:30

Not all discrimination is illegal. For instance, landlords discriminate against those who can't afford to pay the rent. They might discriminate against former tenants who destroyed several walls during their lease period. They discriminate against those with bad credit, and often might discriminate against the unemployed. Landlords often do discriminate against frat students/college students in general.

In fact, at least in the US, discrimination is generally allowed unless it's discrimination for one of a few specifically prohibited reasons (such as race). A lease is a negotiation on both sides; it requires both the landlord and the tenant to be satisfied with each other.

As for why different places have different laws: Toronto is not actually in the United States. That means it has different people, a different culture, different primary values, and a different legal tradition. It's not surprising that laws are different; if laws were the same everywhere, the world would be a boring place indeed.

  • Yeah, I've actually had a professionally managed place that prohibited residents under-21 or some such. However, IIRC, if you claimed you were "mature" and didn't party, they didn't really care.
    – cnst
    Sep 16 '15 at 10:52

In the U.S. it is legal to "discriminate" against tenants for any reason not explicitly forbidden by law. Your question contains good examples of why a property owner would legitimately want to discriminate.

HUD enforces federal anti-discrimination law. Presently:

Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

Some states and jurisdictions have additional categories that are protected from discrimination in the rental or purchase of property. E.g., in California it is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, source of income, or medical condition.

  • Yes, agreed the law is the law. I guess my point was that any arguments a landlord would make against having a dog, would be the same arguments you would make against having a small child living there. The difference obviously that people wouldn't stand for disallowing the child. (I didn't make this exact point in my post, I'm just making the same style of point with an illegal form of discrimination) Jun 20 '15 at 16:48
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    @CarlosBribiescas: I understand your point. But since this site is about the law, arbitrary though it may be, I should also note that it is legal in the U.S. to exclude young tenants from housing reserved exclusively for senior citizens. There are two kinds of senior citizen housing exempted: communities where every tenant is 62 years of age or older, or “55 and older” communities in which at least 80% of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years or older.
    – feetwet
    Jun 20 '15 at 17:17
  • I understand that there are exceptions to these rules, as posted by @Thomas in terms of public housing. I'm saying, why is this illegal when other very similar situations are illegal. Jun 20 '15 at 19:38
  • @CarlosBribiescas: I don't know of a satisfying answer her (nor in the case of many other laws). As you said, "the law is the law." Something gets into law because some people care enough about it to get it legislated, or because it goes to trial and judges are convinced that it is consistent with the government's constitution and express law. It would perhaps be more consistent if property owners had more discretion on whom they could accept as tenants (e.g., they could reject tenants with children), or less discretion (e.g., they couldn't have "no pets" policies). Perhaps we'll see....
    – feetwet
    Jun 20 '15 at 20:58
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    "The difference obviously that people wouldn't stand for disallowing the child." - says who? I can imagine a landlord preferring a couple to a family. And in your actual examples, when we let our house, we didn't rule out students - but they were a definitive minus. As to why, I can recover the cost of damage from any tenants, but I'd really rather not. Mar 1 '16 at 20:42

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