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'This is discrimination': Vancouverites react to 'no pets' policy in rental contracts

"I never understood why a landlord with black mold running all throughout their $2000 rental, won't allow pets."
Photo: Puppy in a cage / Getty Images

Today, Vancouver City Council will address the "no pets" clause in the city's rental contracts. 

Over the weekend, Vancouver Is Awesome shared a story about a motion that 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.

And while pets have helped ease feelings of isolation during this unprecedented time, 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. 

In July, Human Rights Lawyer Laura Track penned an article entitled "No-Pets Clauses and Human Rights" that discusses the vital role landlords play in providing discrimination-free housing for tenants. She writes that "A person with a disability who relies on an animal in connection with their disability has a right to have their needs accommodated."

However, Track notes that some organizations argue that no-pet clauses are discriminatory in any circumstance. She adds that many landlords also prefer to rent to people with pets as they tend to be long-term tenants. 

Here are some of the things our readers had to say about the motion. 

"The city has every right to establish the conditions any business must meet to operate in the city. Pets should not be banned, but there does need to provisions to guarantee responsible pet ownership and limit the number of pets allowed. People who do not properly care for, control or allow their pets to be nuisance should not have pets. The kind of animals people keep as pets should also be considered. No one wants to live next door to a pet alligator or tiger."

- Gary Bowden 

" I never understand why there is "no pets" policy. I deposited the security plus pets deposit for my first rental building here and I recently moved out and I got all of it back. Sure there was tear and wear, but otherwise, fine."

- Katie Jones

" I'm glad it worked out for you but urine from pets damages flooring, loud noises from pets may be music to your ears but it's irritating to others, and there are liability issues associated with a large pet mauling another tenant. I, personally, have never had any issues with pets in my strata building - I'm just answering your "I never understand why there is "no pets" policy" question."

- Gordon Chow 

"Kids are worse... if owners en mass barred people with kids from renting, people's heads would explode and the legislature would be promptly put forth to fix the housing crises. It's a simple case of prejudice by people who are anti-pet."

- Jesse Lidkea 

"Having had issues with pet damage exceeding the DD and the owners being evasive and belligerent. I can say the problem is with some owners, not the pet or the landlord. Landlords aren't there to plug the government's lack of commitment to social housing. Before you all kick off.No I haven't, nor would I bar a tenant because they have a pet."

- Dwane Dibbley 

" The mental health of people is also important and especially in seniors animals can save lives purely by being there as a pet so that needs to be considered"

- Susan Schielke Machin 

"I am all for allowing pets in rentals as long as renters are made responsible for all the damages their pets have caused."

- Brett Chang 

"Good! I never understood why a landlord with black mold running all throughout their $2000 rental, won't allow pets."

- Kimberly McKay 

"People who own property and choose to rent can have policies they are comfortable with. The city has no right to go here. I am not a person who has a rental, but I am a person who believes that owners do have a right to who and what is in their space that they choose to put on the market as a rental."

- Kimberley Willick 

"It makes it more difficult to find housing.. and when you find one, it’s $2000 for a one-bedroom plus an extra $1000 for a pet deposit, plus $1000 for a damage deposit, then utilities on top of that (an example but I’ve seen it)."

- Candace Friesen 

"People get lazy...a woman kept flushing kitty litter in the toilet until it got blocked and almost the whole bldg was affected...COST insurance $$ and inconvenience. What a stink!"

- Sindy KD 

"This is discrimination."

- Rebecca Aviva