Canada Landlords Association

BC Landlords Pet-Friendly Rental Housing Campaign

British Columbia Landlords pet campaign

BC Landlords Pet Campaign – Let’s Get Good Landlords and Good Tenants Working Together To Create Safe and Successful Pet Friendly Rental Properties in British Columbia!

We receive a lot of forum messages and emails from BC Landlords and Tenants. One of the most common topics is about pets.

On the one hand tenants says they are having hard times finding rental properties because they have a pet. They find many landlords get wary when they find out they will have their pet living with them. Some landlords will even refuse the tenant applicant outright.

On the other hand we also get tonnes of messages from BC landlords and their side of the issue. Many landlords say they are animal lovers and understand the importance of having pets. After all, many landlords have dogs, cats, fish, birds, etc. themselves.

The problem they face is they are small, residential landlords and not corporate landlords. This means they have limited budgets and worry about the costs involved in cleaning up after tenants who were irresponsible owners move out.

What’s the Solution for BC Landlords and Tenants with Pets?

The key is for all parties to work together with the shared goal of creating a great situation for everyone involved. In order to help do this it’s important to take a fact based approach that serves all members of the community.

In order to get these facts we contacted the BC SPCA. Their very helpful and informative Outreach Team provided some very useful information:

Question 1: Are companion animals often surrendered to the BC SPCA for housing related reason?

Unfortunately yes, we see a high number of animals surrendered every year because people cannot find a place to live with their companion animals.

Question 2: What type of numbers are we talking about?

The numbers fluctuate year to year, but on average 20% of our surrenders province wide cite problems relating to housing as the reason for surrendering. In 2015 we adopted out 15,811 animals, meaning approximately 3,100 of those animals were surrendered by their original guardians because they could not find a place to live that would take animals.

These situations are always heart breaking- no one should have to give up a family member because they cannot find pet-friendly living space.

Question 3: Can you share some general tips on what types of fair questions might be helpful for small landlords to ask when a potential pet owning tenant wants to rent from them?

Aside from general questions about the type of animal, age, and spay/ neuter status it is often good to ask about what kind of care plan they have in place for their animal.

-Does their dog go to daycare or do they have a dog walker that takes them out while the guardian is at work?

-What kind of exercise plan do they have for their animal?

-How regularly do they visit a veterinarian?

-Does their dog go to daycare or do they have a dog walker that takes them out while the guardian is at work?

-What kind of exercise plan do they have for their animal?

-What kind of enrichment items or activities do you have at home to keep their animal occupied while they are out?

Getting answers to these kinds of questions can give the landlord a better idea of how responsible the guardian is, and what type of behaviour they can expect from the animal.

A well socialized, entertained, exercised animal will usually express less troublesome behaviour than one who is not.

Question 4: Landlords are often worried about responsible grooming habits for pets.  What are some fair and helpful questions a landlord might ask that could help them feel more comfortable with this worry?

Questions about nail trimming for cats & dogs is a good to ask as there is sometimes a concern about scratching floors or furniture.

Having regular nail trimmings, and scratching toys can reduce the risk of that kind of damage- however it is fair to note that scratched floors can happen by pushing a chair back from a table, or wearing shoes indoors just as easily.

A FIREPAW study found that “there is no statistically significant damage between tenants with pets and tenants without pets”.

On average FIREPAW found that “tenants with pets in pet-friendly housing stay an average for 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants residing in rentals prohibiting pets”.

For a landlord this means less lost income looking for tenants, and less hassle arranging for move outs/ins, cleaning, advertising, and interviewing new tenants.

Question 5: We read about the idea of pet resume.  Could you tell us how that works and how it can be helpful for both small landlords and tenants?

The BC SPCA has a sample pet resume available online that we encourage potential tenants to use when looking for housing.

We find that many landlords are hesitant renting to tenants with animals simply because they do not know what the animal will be like; a pet resume that clearly outlines the personality of the animal, any training and experience the animal has had, and what kind of health and grooming considerations he/she may have can alleviate the fear of the unknown.

It gives a great snapshot of what to expect from the animal- just like an interview assists a landlord in knowing what to expect of the tenant.

Question 6: Do you have any general tips to help pet loving landlords encourage other landlords to be open about renting to tenants with pets?

Focus on the benefits of having pet friendly rentals: longer tenancy, alleviating the problem of homeless animals and potential for higher rental income (pet guardians tend to be willing to pay more for a pet-friendly space).

The greatest impact for changing someone’s mind is to focus on the positive results of a choice, instead of just trying to dispel myths.

Question 7: Does the BC SPCA have any workshops or events to help landlords learn to be good ‘pet friendly’ landlords?

We do not have anything at the moment, however please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions and we will be happy to accommodate.

BC Landlords and Pets

We again want to thank the very helpful BC SPCA Outreach team for their advice and information.

The reality is there are a lot of tenants out there who have pets and it’s a terrific market for small residential landlords.

Tenants should know the financial concerns that small, residential landlords face.

By understanding each other, both landlords and tenants (and their pets) can find nice, safe homes.

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