Vancouver considers making it illegal for landlords to ban pets

A Vancouver city councillor is hoping to make it easier for renters with pets to find a home by making it illegal for landlords to ban pets or restrict their size.

For renters with pets, finding a home can be a stressful and frustrating process.

Under B.C. law, landlords are allowed to ban pets or restrict their size, but Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson is lobbying for to change that.

In Vancouver, 50 per cent of households are renters, and with the vacancy rate at around 1 per cent, allowing landlords to ban pets puts animal owners at a major disadvantage.

Stevenson is promoting the motion and hopes to generate recommendations to better enable tenants with pets.

“Right now it’s up to the arbitrary whim of the landlord. One landlord says ‘yes’, the other landlord says ‘no,’” Stevenson said, adding that if the building gets sold to a new landlord who doesn’t allow pets people are forced to move or abandon their animals.

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Stevenson points out that Ontario does not allow landlords to ban pets and thinks Vancouver should adopt a similar policy.

The BC SPCA said they would welcome the motion. “This has long been an issue of concern for us: pet restrictions in rental housing and stratas are one of the main reasons animals are surrendered to the BC SPCA,” officer Erica Mattson said in an email. “In 2012, 101 animals were taken in at our Vancouver branch for reasons related to housing, accounting for 25% of all animal surrenders. Housing reasons are also the most common surrender reason at BC SPCA locations province-wide, accounting for 39% of all adult dog and cat surrenders.”

Mattson said they plan on submitting a letter to council outlining their position.

However, not everyone supports the motion. Amy Spencer from the Rental Housing Council of BC said she is surprised by the motion.

“We believe that landlords have the right to decide whether to have pets in their units. The province looked at this back in 2004, so we’re a little surprised by this motion from the city. At the time of the public consultation in 2004 the province changed the legislation to make it easier for landlords to accept pets. So we were quite happy with that.

City councillors will vote on the motion next week, but any changes to B.C. ‘s Residential Tenancy Act would ultimately have to come from the province.

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With files from Catherine Urquhart 

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