Canada Landlords Association

BC Landlords – Should the Residential Tenancy Act be Changed To Allow Pets?

April 1st, 2013



According to a report in the Vancouver Observer, when Renée Stephen and her cat moved from Ontario to Vancouver in 2010 she came with huge aspirations.

However, she explained when she started rooting through the house listings on Craigslist she hit a problem. She found BC landlords didn’t seem to accept pets. There was next to nothing which was ‘cat friendly’ and those that were ‘cat friendly’ were of an incredibly poor quality. This was a stark difference to Ontario landlords where almost everything listed was able to accept cats.

Tenant Anthony Incardona suffered the same problem except he face it with his three year old dog. He found that only around 5% of the accommodation available in Vancouver was able to accept dogs.  He also found those places which did accept them were of a very poor quality.

So why is this?

Well, Vancouver has one of the lowest amount of vacancies available in Canada, which means that landlords can pretty much pick and choose who they want in their accommodation. It is bad enough for a normal renter to find accommodation, but when you throw pets into the mix it gets a great deal harder. Tenants complain the can scroll rental ads for hours every single day and still not come anywhere close to finding the right accommodation if you have a pet.

There may be a solution in the near future however, and that involves the BC Residential Tenancy Act Section 18 changing. This is the section of the legislation which allows Landlords in the area to exclude pets if they wish. A couple of years ago there was an attempt to change the legislation, but sadly there was too much support on the landlord front.

The problem is, many owners are actually finding accommodation that is completely pet free. Nowadays, one of the top reasons as to why pets are brought into shelters is because they can’t find the right accommodation, so they need to give up their pets. As a result, these animal shelters are pushed to overflow.

One of the main reasons as to why landlords exclude pets is to protect their properties, and nobody is disputing that they have the right to do that. This is why the SPCA has developed a toolkit which includes a pet policy so that the owner’s responsibility with their pets around is set in stone, which means there can be no arguments.

It was back in 2009 that Hollyburn Properties attempted to evict all of the pet owners after their latest rental acquisition. The main reason behind this was potential health risks that could be a result of animals in the building. Their policy still hasn’t changed since that time.

What many landlords need to realize is that families are looking to rent, who some see as the best tenants, and yet nowadays, the majority of families include pets.

Pet-friendly housing remains an issue here, but it isn’t in Ontario. In fact, tenants have a right to pets and there is nothing that landlords can do to prohibit them. All tenants are responsible for any damage caused to their unit by a pet.

The people in this story eventually managed to find accommodation for them and their pet, but it wasn’t plain sailing, and they certainly did not end up with the accommodation that they wanted.


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