Accommodation in Tenancy: Assistance and Support Animals.

AuthorFeng, Judy
PositionColumns: Landlord and Tenant Law

Sometimes tenants require the assistance and support of an animal. Are landlords required to accommodate a tenant with an assistance or support animal? Well, part of the answer depends on the type of animal involved: does the situation involve a disabled tenant with a qualified service or guide dog, or is this some other type of animal like a companion, emotional support or therapy animal?

In Alberta, the right of a disabled or blind person to use a service or guide dog is protected by both the Service Dogs Act and Blind Persons' Rights Act. Landlords cannot discriminate against disabled and blind persons with a qualified service or guide dog, provided that the person can control the dog's behavior. Landlords who discriminate against or deny occupancy of a dwelling unit to a person with a service or guide dog are guilty of an offence and can be fined up to $3,000.

The right of a disabled or blind person to use a service or guide dog is also protected by the Alberta Human Rights Act. Landlords have a duty to accommodate disabled persons with a qualified service or guide dog to the point of undue hardship. This means making adjustments or providing alternate arrangements to meet the needs of disabled tenants. Some of the factors that are considered in undue hardship include: financial costs of the accommodation, health and safety concerns and substantial interference with other people. Undue hardship is a difficult standard to meet. Generally, landlords must provide some level of accommodation for disabled tenants with service or guide dogs.

On the other hand, there are also other types of animals that provide assistance and support to people, for example, companion animals...

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