Renting Well Blog

Vancouver Landlords May Lose The Right To Deny Tenants With Pets

Came across this great article by Jesse Ferreras at the Huffington Post B.C. As landlords, all of us have been faced with the question of renting to a pet owner. Denying tenancy because of a pet is often assumed by tenants to be an issue related to concerns about damage, but the truth is there’s more to it than that – on both sides of the equation.

Let’s backtrack though, and talk about what’s going on in Vancouver. As of right now, landlords in Vancouver have the right to refuse potential occupants with animals. However,  councillor Tim Stevenson recently tabled a motion at city hall, which already has the support of Mayor Gregor Robertson, that would prevent landlords from discriminating against renters on the basis of whether or not they own a pet. In an effort to know and learn all of the facts, chew on these tasty bullets:

  • Similar legislation has been in place in Ontario for more than 10 years. Both the mayor and councillor Stevenson argue that if it can work in Canada’s most populous province, it can work in Vancouver.  
  • 50% of Vancouver households are renting. With an average home price in the 700 thousands out west, this is the reality.
  • Every year, more than 100 pets are surrendered to the BC SPCA because of the current rules.
  • Vancouver’s vacancy rate hovers slightly above 1%.
  • There’s a an easy to see legitimate problem with people finding housing in a city where it’s clearly too expensive for many people to buy already.

Quite the municipal challenge there. Seriously.

The BC SPCA is leading the charge in an effort to inform landlords of the benefits of renting to a pet owner. I can see both sides of the equation here, and you’re forced to consider all of the facts in the situation. As a landlord in Ontario, while I obviously don’t have a no pets policy. I’m particular about keeping on top of this with a few of my tenants who do have pets. It’s not easy.

Full disclosure. My units are closely situated from one another, and I’ve had more than my share of complaints over the years from some of my tenants about barking from the one tenant I have with a dog. I also had a previous tenant in the last 3 years whose jerk dog badly damaged a unit (they refused to accept responsibility after assuring me their schnauzer was a trained, wonderful, and quiet dog. I was forced to take them to the board and ended up winning a judgement. Then the tenant dropped off the face of the earth and I never got paid the $700 they owed me).  I come across as many people when I’m in search of a new tenant who indicate they have allergies and an aversion to pet dander as I do with people who have pets. I have other tenants who have pet allergies. Juggling all of these things is not easy. All of my pet issues have been related to dogs. Never had an issue with a cat or other small animal.

The right of tenants to have pets is not unfettered in Ontario.  The pets must not become a nuisance and those same pets can not interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by other tenants or the landlord. There’s recourse with the LTB in the event that a pet becomes a problem. There is recourse in the event that a tenant with a pet doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain, however, any landlord knows that controlling the situation in the here and now is significantly more challenging. You have to prove damage or issue, and that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Vancouver is obviously a unique situation vs. most other cities in the country. With it’s high concentration of renters, I can appreciate where the mayor and the councilman are coming from, and their motion is noble. What do you think? Share your thoughts or comments with us. Have you ever had an issue with pets? What do you think of this motion?

Author: Chris Saracino

Chris is a co-founder of Renting Well and heads up our marketing and communication efforts. He's also the landlord of two buildings and 8 units in Ottawa, Ontario.

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