Bill introduced to force Quebec landlords to accept pets in rental units

Click to play video: 'Should all Quebec tenants have the right to live with their pet?'
Should all Quebec tenants have the right to live with their pet?
WATCH: Half of all Quebec households have a dog or a cat but only a small amount of landlords allow them in their rental agreements. Québec solidaire is putting a bill forward to change that. As Global's Gloria Henriquez reports, the goal is to alleviate the housing crisis and improve animal welfare – May 25, 2023

Quebec Solidaire is putting a bill forward to force landlords to accept pets in rental housing units.

Bill 494 seeks to modify the civil code, making animal bans illegal for ongoing and future leases.

It’s something that would bring Montreal resident Tobias Gurl huge relief.

“I think that’s absolutely necessary,” Gurl said. “For folks who have disabilities or who are low income, animals are often very key in our well-being. They provide emotional support, stability in our routine, companionship when we’re unable to find others, they are consistence in inconsistent life.”

Gurl has been searching since March for an apartment that would allow him to keep his service dog Winston.

“We’ve had no luck,” Gurl said.

He says they’ve been locked out of rentals because of Winston several times and with moving day fast approaching, he is on edge.

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“Under a lot of pressure and unwanted,” Gurl said.

It’s exactly what members of Quebec Solidaire say they want to change.

MNA Manon Massé says the legislation is especially important given the ongoing housing crisis.

“To protect animals but also to give to the people the possibility to keep their animals with them,” Massé said at the Quebec national assembly.

The SPCA says no-pet clauses are a growing problem in Montreal.

“It’s one of the main reasons why animals are surrendered to shelters every year,” said Sophie Gaillard, the Montreal SPCA’s director of animal advocacy.

According to Gaillard, 52 per cent Quebec households own a dog or a cat, but only four per cent of rental units allow pets without any restrictions.

The Quebec Landlords Association says building owners and some tenants don’t like the law.

“It’s mostly because of noise complaints and damages caused by the animals when they leave,” said Melissa Lemieux, a lawyer for the Quebec Landlords Association (APQ). “You’re opening a can of worms.”

Lemieux says landlords would be more comfortable accepting pets if the law required a security deposit, because they’re often stuck with costly fines and repair bills.

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But Gurl disagrees with that premise.

“It’s a blame-the-victim scenario that is enabled by landlords and unsympathetic public,” Gurl said. “Housing is key to community well-being. If the residents in a community don’t have stable housing, everything else falls apart.”

Gurl hopes the bill is adopted for his sake and that of all others who rely on their animals.

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