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City to address 'no pets' policy in Vancouver rental contracts

The BC SPCA reports that “no pets” policies are the leading cause for surrender and abandonment of pets.
Photo: abandoned puppy / Getty Images

If you've struggled to find an apartment in Vancouver that allows pets, you are not alone.

While many people have struggled to pay rent across Canada due to the pandemic, the City of Vancouver’s Renters Advisory Committee stresses that this is particularly true in Vancouver. According to the 2016 census, up to 35% of renter households spend well-over a third of their income on housing.

For renters looking to house their furry best pals, there are fewer options available. This often means that they are forced to choose more expensive rentals, or, in some instances, to give up ownership of their beloved pets. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, the committee plans to address rental affordability at the city council meeting. Additionally, the meeting will address the "no pets" clause in rental contracts. 

The motion, submitted by Councillor Swanson and Councillor Fry on behalf of the Renters Advisory Committee, calls for the prohibition of the "no pets" clause in rental contracts. It points out that British Columbians have been encouraged to stay home and practice physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that doing so is particularly difficult for seniors, under-housed individuals, and those who live alone.

Pets have helped ease feelings of isolation during this unprecedented time, but they have also been shown to have a positive impact on mental health regardless of the circumstance. 

"COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing problem: the current legislation discriminates against renters that have pets and are trying to find affordable housing in B.C.," read the motion.

"The BC SPCA reports that “no pets” policies are the leading cause for surrender and abandonment of pets."

According to the BC SCPA, about 20% of companion animals surrendered by their guardians are for a lack of available pet-friendly housing. This represents about 1,500 pets yearly. 

Ontario has prohibited the "no pets" policy, and it faces similar pressures in rental housing. Since the Ontario model has been successful, the motion argues it may be studied and applied here in B.C. 

While the Province placed a temporary ban on evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tenants must pay back all of their unpaid rent by July 21, 2021. 

Now, the City of Vancouver’s Renters Advisory Committee is calling on Mayor Stewart, City Council, and city staff to take meaningful action to immediately house all homeless individuals, and cancel rent debts accrued during the pandemic.

The committee says that the challenges brought on by COVID-19 have exacerbated the existing housing crisis in Vancouver, and further jeopardized people’s abilities to find and keep their housing. Find out more, HERE.