News / Vancouver

Pet owners rally to change B.C. rental laws

B.C. Landlords are currently able to discriminate against renters who have pets but advocates want that to change

An advocacy group for pet owners want B.C. to change its rental laws that currently allow landlords to discriminate against renters who have pets.

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An advocacy group for pet owners want B.C. to change its rental laws that currently allow landlords to discriminate against renters who have pets.

Animal advocates are launching a campaign to change B.C.’s renter laws that they say put pet owners at a disadvantage at a time when vacancy rates in cities are at one per cent or lower.

Less than 10 per cent of rental listings in Vancouver are available to people with pets, said Eliot Galan, co-organizer of Pets OK BC. The organization says support for their call to eliminate the ‘no pets’ clause from the Residential Tenancy Act has been swift. Their Facebook group gained 1,000 followers in three days once word got out about the petition in February, according to Galan.

“Anyone who is a renter who has a pet has been affected by this at some point of our their lives,” he said.

Galan, a Vancouver renter who is also a dog owner, describes the issue as a matter of human rights, because many people consider their pets as family members.

“I’ve had my dog for seven years now and she has saved my life in numerous reasons. I will never give her up.”

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But hundreds of people are forced to give up their pets every year due to housing issues, according to the BC SPCA.

About 1,700 animals were surrendered to the nonprofit as a result of housing problems, according to Amy Morris, policy outreach officer at BC SPCA.

“That boils down to people getting evicted or people not being able to find affordable housing when they move to a different city,” she said.

The BC SPCA wants the government to consider modelling its Residency Tenancy Act after Ontario’s rental laws, which haven’t allowed landlords to discriminate against pet owners for more than 20 years. Those laws still allow landlords to evict a tenant if their pet is causing problems.

“That really targets the irresponsible owner rather than targeting all pet guardians unnecessarily,” said Morris.

A spokesperson for the Ministry Responsible for Housing said the government does not plan to make any changes to the Tenancy Rental Act and pointed out a 2004 legislation change that allowed landlords to charge pet damage deposits in an effort to encourage them to accept pets.

People can find the Pets OK BC petition in pet stores throughout Vancouver and Victoria, as well as on the Pets OK BC website.

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