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Is it easier to find a pet-friendly apartment in Toronto or Vancouver? An expert weighs in

Toronto has something we don't have.
Vancouver rent prices are the highest in Canada but the city also has strict pet policies for tenants.

If you've ever had to find a place to rent in Vancouver with a pooch in tow, you might have found that options were few and far between. 

Metro Vancouver has the highest rental prices in Canada, with the average price for an unfurnished, one-bedroom unit climbing $71 from $2,541 to $2,612 this June.

In the City of Vancouver, renters in the downtown area face even steeper costs, with apartments averaging a whopping $2,741 for the same units. 

But folks with furry best pals face even more challenges thanks to B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act, which allows restrictions on the type, size, or number of pets, as well as allowing landlords to forbid them. 

In 2020, the Vancouver city council voted unanimously to end the "no pets" policy in rental contracts. Since then, city staff has explored ways for curbing landlords' ability to refuse a potential tenant who has a pet. It has also advocated the province amend the RTB's rules on pets in rental accommodation.

"Although the jurisdiction to allow pets in rental housing rests with the Province under the RTA, staff have pursued more focused initiatives to accommodate renters with pets in Vancouver, while also considering concerns from landlords and other renters about preventing damage to rental units and mitigating impacts including noise and allergies," a spokesperson for the city told V.I.A.

Some of the initiatives include working with the Renters' Advisory Committee on education and awareness initiatives about the benefits of pet ownership, speaking with development applicants about creating more pet-friendly buildings, and the clause in the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy that asks development applicants to "consider a tenant's need for a pet-friendly unit."

But these initiatives fall short of the power tenants have in Canada's largest city.

How Toronto's pet policy measures up to Vancouver's

Toronto -- and more broadly Ontario -- has a clause in its Residential Tenancies Act that makes a "no pets" provision in a residential complex void. This means that landlords don't need to list their apartments as "pet friendly" but they won't be able to kick tenants out for having a pooch or a feline, either. 

On Craigslist, there are about 31 potential one-bedroom, unfurnished units under $2,000 in the City of Vancouver that say they'll accommodate cats and dogs. In contrast, there are around 70 of the same units available in Toronto. However, Toronto's population dwarfs Vancouver's, at over 3 million and 631,486, respectively, based on the most recent available data. 

Of course, many rental accommodations don't advertise whether or not they are pet friendly, while others advertise on other platforms. Still, tenants have the power to fight landlords who tell them they can't bring Fido or even a few of his friends. 

But prospective tenants still face competition in finding affordable housing in Toronto. While landlords can't prohibit them from having animals, they may favour applications from pet-free tenants. 

 Animal Law Lawyer Victoria Shroff told V.I.A. that pet owners who are lucky enough to find accommodation in any city may also face challenges with restrictions.

While B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act (RTB) may have more restrictions concerning pets, Toronto has some noteworthy restrictions, too.

The City of Toronto has a six-pet restriction. Of those six animals, only three of them may be canines, Shroff explains. 

Additionally, condos can set more rules concerning pets than rental apartment buildings, meaning that folks following strata rules might have a harder time with their animals. 

Toronto has also implemented new rules for animal welfare, such as one that requires pets who stay outside to have an enclosure. 

"I think it's safe to say that Toronto has some more provisions that are pet-friendly," Shroff remarked.