Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

'The house reeked of urine': B.C. landlord says tenant kept over 100 snakes in rental unit

Plus snakeskin, fur and dead flies, according to the landlord.
The BC Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) sees a range of complaints regarding cleanliness and pest issues and many of them involve snakes. 

While you may think of them as something to avoid, many people consider snakes loving pets. 

Reptile enthusiasts, however, often have a hard time convincing landlords that they make great living companions. A snake's diet often makes people squeamish, and, depending on the species, some of them are particularly dangerous if they escape. 

Many residential buildings in Vancouver are fighting rodent infestations, but it isn't exactly safe to let snakes loose to nip the mice tails in the bud. 

According to Section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law. In other words, they need to keep your pad pest-free or deal with pest issues as they arise. 

Tenants also bear a responsibility to uphold the cleanliness of their rental units, too. 

The RTA stipulates that a "tenant must maintain reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards throughout the rental unit." 

The BC Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) sees a range of complaints from landlords and tenants regarding cleanliness and pest issues — but it may surprise you how many of the files involve snakes. 

Here are just a few of the multiple decisions involving snake-related issues in past years in British Columbia.

Snakes galore: Over 100 snakes, dogs, rodents, and "other small animals" 

There are hoarders — and then there are snake hoarders. In this messy dispute (emphasis on messy), the landlord stated that the former tenant left bags of garbage in the rental unit that required a couple of trips to the landfill. Additionally, they said the tenant kept dogs, over 100 snakes, rodents, and other small animals on the premises. 

"The house reeked of urine, and there was [snakeskin], fur and dead flies left uncleaned by the tenant," reads the dispute.

The landlord added that they needed an exterminator to ensure they were no snakes slithering through the unit after the tenant left. 

Mystery snake? Those rats are food for the snake...but where is the snake?  

If you've ever walked into a room that had an aquarium with rats in it, you may have assumed they were pets. In this case, you could be wrong. The landlord claimed that the tenant told them that they were food for a snake. However, no snake was observed. Instead, the landlord observed the "strong odour of animals" — specifically rat urine and the smell of dogs. 

In response to the landlord's allegations, the tenant claimed she has one dog, one snake, and no rats. 

A variety of pets

The landlord in this dispute said the tenant had lizards, snakes, spiders, and fish "as pets" and that she bred mice, rats, tadpoles, and crickets to feed them. The tenant, however, claimed that she only had two fish tanks, one small snake, an iguana, and a bearded dragon.

The landlord stated that they never approved any of these pets and the RTB deemed the unit unrentable due to damage caused by the pets.