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City approves motion to end 'no pets' policy in Vancouver rental contracts

Pet owners, rejoice!
happy-puppies
Photo: Dogs happy at home with their owner / Getty Images

Pet owners, rejoice!

Today, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to end the "no pets" policy in rental contracts. 

In a Tweet, Mayor Kennedy Stewart voiced his support for the decision, stating that "More than ever, pets are critical to so many renters' mental health & well being."

He also shared a picture of his pooch, Fergus. He quipped, "Fergus may be sleeping, but he approves too!"

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."

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. 

Provincial Pet Policy Considerations 

The BC SPCA has recently launched a campaign urging British Columbians to voice their support for more pet-friendly rental housing in B.C.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – when the BC SPCA saw a surge in people seeking the comfort and companionship of animals –, the need for pet-friendly accommodation has become more urgent, said the organization in a news release. 

“Approximately 25 percent of all animals surrendered to BC SPCA facilities are given up because their guardians can’t find housing that will allow their pet,” says Meghann Cant, BC SPCA manager of companion animal welfare (science and policy). “It is heartbreaking to see people forced to give up a pet because of housing issues.

The BC SPCA has created an online tool kit to help pet guardians find a home for themselves and their furry family members. Read more, HERE.