Vancouver city council passed a motion to end “no pet” restrictions in rental housing contracts on October 13, 2020.

The motion, put forward by Councillors Pete Fry and Jean Swanson, asks Mayor Stewart to:

  • ask the province to prohibit “no pets” clauses in rental contracts; and
  • ask city staff to research way to curb landlords’ right to refuse rental on the basis of pet ownership.

The reason for the motion is the growing problem of isolation, especially for “seniors, under-housed individuals, and people who live alone,” according to Vancouver council.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing problem,” the motion says. “The current legislation discriminates against renters that have pets and are trying to find affordable housing in BC.”

The motion also notes the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (SPCA) reports “no pets” policies are the leading cause for surrender and abandonment of pets.

Pets in rentals

The Vancouver council has no jurisdiction over pets in rentals.

During a tenancy, the tenant must follow the rules set out in the tenancy agreement about pets.

Currently, under section 18 of the Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord can restrict the size, kind and number of pets and can make other reasonable pet-related rules that the tenant must follow such as asking for a pet damage deposit of up to 50 per cent of the monthly rent.

Pet damage deposits are not required for manufactured home park tenancies or for guide or service dogs or pets that were in a rental unit as of January 1, 2004.

In stratas which allow rentals, pets are covered under strata bylaws.

Vancouver to lobby province

Vancouver council is asking Mayor Kennedy Stewart to lobby the province to end pet restrictions in rentals.

SPCA campaign

On October 13, 2020, the BC SPCA launched a campaign urging British Columbians to voice support for more pet-friendly housing by signing a pet-friendly housing pledge.

Finding affordable, pet-friendly housing in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland has long been a challenge for animal lovers, according to the SPCA.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC SPCA saw a surge in residents seeking the comfort and companionship of animals, and the need for pet-friendly accommodation has become more urgent. 

However, landlords may be cautious due to the wear and tear caused by pets as well as pet odors. As well, other tenants may be allergic.