Over half of Canadian households have family pets. If you are a renter, however, finding pet-friendly suite can often be a challenge. Organizations like Pets OK BC advocate for pet-friendly rentals and even BC Landlords Association recognizes the needs for more pet-friendly rental housing. Though Ontario has some pet-friendly legislation in place, be sure to know the laws in your area. Check out CMHC’s provincial and territorial rental fact sheets for more information.
If you live in BC, landlords are within their rights to refuse to rent to pet owners and enforce a ‘no pets’ clause in the rental agreement. Further, landlords can also restrict the size, type, and number of pets. Your landlord will likely require a pet deposit of up to half of one month’s rent. Even though your pet may be well-behaved, landlords are often wary of allowing pets in their rental properties fearing damage and disturbance to neighbors. It is interesting to note that pet owners do make more stable tenants, and stay in their rental units 250% longer compared to tenants without pets. Renting to pet owners is often more profitable, as rental suites that allow pets often do so at a premium.
According to the BCSPCA, over 1700 pets are surrendered each year due to pet rental restrictions. Even though 80% of the BC population support tenants’ rights to keep pets in their rentals, currently this is not the legal reality we face when searching for rentals.
If you are in search of pet-friendly housing, here are 7 tips to help find a perfect home for you and your pet:
1. Give Yourself Extra Time
In your online rental search (most sites have the option to filter results based on pet policy) you will likely find lower inventory for pet-friendly suites. For this reason, it is important to give yourself as much time as possible when in search of a new place to live. Be prepared for a longer search process.
2. Get references
If you currently rent with a pet, having your current landlord offer a reference for your pet (and you as a pet owner) can be powerful. Not all pets and owners are alike, set yourself apart by demonstrating that you are responsible and proactive.
3. Ask Around
You may want to ask around and contact local veterinarians, groomers, boarding facilities and pet stories to inquire about pet-friendly landlords.
4. Tell the Truth
It is best to start any landlord-tenant relationship off on the right foot. Don’t be tempted to lie or sneak in a pet, as that may lead to more of a headache down the road.
5. Expect to Pay More
As a pet owner, you may be required to provide a pet deposit before you move into a rental unit. Additionally, pet-friendly suites can be more expensive on a per month basis as well. Have your financials in order and anticipate these extra expenses.
6. Consider a Suite
Most apartment complexes have restrictions on pet size, type, and number. You will likely have better luck finding pet-friendly options (especially for larger pets) in a single-family house.
7. Get Your Info Together
Gather all of your pet’s health and immunization records, along with any other relevant information. BCSPCA suggests writing up a rental resume for your pet. Though this sounds a bit funny, it can be helpful to outline your pet’s key characteristics, health info and training experience in one place. Be sure to include a picture with your pet’s information. If the landlord seems amenable, you may even decide on an in-person introduction. Introducing your landlord to your pet can make a difference.