Discover some ways that will increase your chances of getting the place you want … with your pet.

Finding a home for you and your furry companion can be a challenge. According to the SPCA, there’s a shortage of pet-friendly housing in BC. Many places allow cats, but only a few of these allow dogs. And it is very hard to find a place that allows large dogs. Often condo and townhouse strata bylaws will even add a limit to the size of pet permitted. 

Many landlords are concerned about renting to people with pets because of the damage they can cause, plus the disruption, noise and/or danger to other tenants. That said, over half of Canadian households have pets and a majority of Canadians would not put themselves at financial risk if damage was such a concern.

If Pets Caused Excessive Damage We Wouldn't Have Them

A landlord can decide whether or not they will allow pets and, if pets are permitted, the landlord can restrict the size, kind or number of pets. The landlord can also establish pet-related rules and the tenant must abide by those rules. Landlords can also ask for a pet deposit, however; the pet deposit cannot be more than half of one month’s rent, regardless of the number of pets. The deposit collected can only be used to claim for damages done by a pet. 

Landlords want to protect their investment. As a pet owner, you want to show a prospective landlord that you are a responsible tenant and a responsible pet owner. Here are some ways you can do so:

  1. When applying for a rental that allows pets, be open and honest about your pet in a way that you believe a landlord would like to hear. Say something like this, “I have a 10 year old short-haired, spayed female cat named Billy. She is a lazy indoor cat that doesn’t do anything more than sleep all day,” or “My 5 year old Pomeranian dog Peaches is a perfect apartment dog. He is neutered, professionally trained and does not bark. I am happy to sign a pet agreement.”
  2. To increase your chances of finding an apartment or house that allows pets, provide references from your previous landlord and bring along your pet’s veterinary records. Be open with potential landlords about how you care for and clean up after your pet.
  3. Let the prospective landlord know that you are prepared to pay a pet damage deposit and bring along a Pet Agreement that you’re willing to sign. We have one available in our Rental Forms section. This shows that you’re serious about respecting the landlord’s property and will adhere to all rules.

    And here are a few things to consider when renting with dogs:
  4. Bring your dog along when you meet the landlord and view the unit, so the landlord can meet your pet.
  5. Offer a prospective landlord the opportunity to visit you at your current residence so he/she can see how well you keep your current home. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer, you’ve shown that you are willing to prove your words.
  6. Create a resume for your pet. This can help show a landlord that you are a responsible pet owner. Include information such as obedience classes, vaccination records and references from dog trainers, pet sitters or neighbours.

Arbitrated Decisions Regarding Pets

Case: Landlord tries to collect pet deposit
Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2011/02/Decision1816_022011.pdf

Case: Landlord gives a Notice to End Tenancy because the Tenant has 9 or more cats
Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2011/03/Decision1308_032011.pdf  

For more information on an initiative to strike down laws in BC that allow property owners to impose unfair “no pets” policies on tenants in rental housing, and that allow Strata Corporations to impose pet restrictions on owners of Strata properties, visit www.petsok.ca