Varun Mutneja has relied on his service dog, Nala, to support his mental health for years. But now he and his pregnant wife say the board of their recently purchased condo is threatening to evict the four-year-old golden retriever.
“We just bought a condo and were like, ‘Awesome, this is a great step in our lives’ and with the baby coming on board, the thought of losing the dog only adds to any anxiety,” Mutneja told CTV. Toronto News.
Nala has been with Mutneja since 2018 and even attended the presentation of the Etobicoke condo he and Periana would end up buying in May of last year.
The young couple said they knew before moving in that the council had a pet restriction policy for animals over 20lbs (Nala weighs 50lbs), but they said their bylaws made no mention of accommodation or inclusion of service animals.
Because of this, Mutneja and his wife, Samantha Periana, went out of their way to educate Nala’s caretaker and her importance as a service animal.
“We were open and honest from the start. We informed them as soon as possible. We gave them all the Nala documents, their service dog requirements, their certification, everything,” Periana said.
According to Mutneja, Nala is registered with Assistance Dogs Canada and has successfully completed the organization’s training program.
Additionally, Mutneja has a medical certificate detailing his need for a service animal, as well as a statement from his therapist saying the dog is “necessary” for his emotional and mental health and that Nala will “relieve symptoms.” , from which he currently suffers.
This photo shows Varun Mutneja, his wife Samantha Periana and service dog Nala. (provided)
After all of these documents were submitted when the couple moved in in July, Mutneja took it a step further and wrote a statement to the condo board in August explaining that he needed a service dog, a step he would take. he is pursuing his own information had been made on the recommendation of the syndic of the co-ownership.
In October, however, the couple said they received a letter from the council’s legal department requesting these documents, which they provided.
Mutneja and Periana said the board and its legal team responded by “questioning the integrity of the letter” the doctor submitted and which CTV News Toronto viewed and other related documents.
“They requested Varun’s personal medical records or the immediate removal of the service animal from the property. It took a toll on his sanity,” Periana said.
According to the couple, the board said it had until February 1 to get rid of Nala or the company would file a lawsuit with the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) to evict him.
As of this writing, Nala is still at the Etobicoke apartment with the couple.
In a statement released to CTV News Toronto, Kings Gate Condo Corporation’s board of directors said it “complies and will continue to comply with its obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and its housing policy.
In a follow-up email to Kings Gate, CTV News Toronto asked if council still intended to evict the dog, but received no response.
The couple added that there are other residents in the building with dogs over 20 pounds who are not service animals. The council approved these animals and granted them an exemption because they paid a $650 fee to design a pet shelter with their attorney, the couple said.
According to the code, provincial law grants everyone equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in areas such as work, housing and services.
“The purpose of the Code is to prevent discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, disability and age, to name just a few of the 17 grounds,” according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “In Ontario, the law protects you from discrimination and harassment in these areas based on mental disabilities and addictions.
In an interview with CTV News Toronto, real estate attorney Bob Aaron said Mutneja was eligible for housing because of his disability.
“It’s not a pet. We do not take animals. And we’re not talking about a $650 compliance waiver,” Aaron said.
“This is an accommodation under the Human Rights Act, which supersedes all other laws. It trumps the condo law, it trumps the condo rules. If they continue with this nonsense, [Mutneja could] go to [Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario] and get compensation from the condominium company… It’s a matter of principle. He has the right to housing. Human rights law takes precedence. No money. No charges. Zero.”
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