News / Edmonton

Edmonton's rental market and low vacancy rate tough for pet owners

With one of the lowest vacancy rates in the province, finding a place to rent in Edmonton has become increasingly more challenging — especially if you’re a pet owner.

Since January, 15.6 per cent of all pets surrendered to Edmonton’s Human Society were given up because of issues with landlords or because the owner was moving — that’s 267 pets out of 1,717.

For pet owners like Diana Sully, giving up her cat Lady to find an apartment in the city when she moved from Ontario three years ago was out of the question.

“I was ever so shocked to find out most apartments would not rent to me because I have a cat,” said Sully, who eventually found a three-story walk up that accepted her and her pet.

Sully said while searching she did speak with landlords that would rent to her, but she wasn’t able to afford the cost.

“There are some apartment buildings that do allow pets but the rent is astronomical,” Sully said. “They’re making it very difficult for a lot of people.”

President of Edmonton Apartment Association Bill Begley said it’s less about landlords not wanting pets in the units, but not wanting bad pet owners.

“People want to get the best possible tenant and all too often the best possible tenant is one that doesn’t have a pet,” said Begley.

Begley said stories of owners leaving pets on the balcony for a long period of time or locking them in a room for the day are some of the reasons why less than half the properties he manages allow pets.

“It’s not so much the pet, it’s the owner,” he said.

With a vacancy rate as low as 1.4 per cent, Begley noted it’s not just pet owners who are having a hard time finding a place to rent.

While renters may have trouble finding a landlord that welcomes their pets, Animal Protection Officer Grey said they are instrumental when dealing with abandoned animals.

“We get complaints from landlords if they skip out on rent, like a midnight move, and took everything but animals,” said Grey, who asked her first name not be published.

Since landlords are the owners of the property, Grey said APOs are always working with them when dealing with abandoned animals.

“They’re technically the owners and they’re responsible for the property and the property within the property, so they’re responsible for everything,” Grey said.

In June, APO officers created 34 files for abandoned animals.

While the officers have the authority to take the animals abandoned in an rental unit, they must try there best to locate the owner and wait 24 hours.

“That’s one thing that’s really difficult for us cause we want to go in there and remove them ourselves to bring them back to the shelter, but legally we can’t,” she said.

Earlier this month, EHS closed it’s doors to all cats and owner-surrendered dogs due to the space crunch.

Since January 12 cats and two dogs have been surrendered to EHS because the owner became homeless.

An additional 24 cats and eight dogs were surrendered because the owner was moving into a care facility.

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