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Landlords say pet-friendly rental legislation would shrink rental stock

Making life harder for landlords by forcing them to allow pets would encourage more of them to list their property on Airbnb instead, says Landlord BC

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.

Landlords should not be forced to rent to pet owners because that kind of legislation would make rental vacancy rates even lower than they already are, says Landlord BC.

Some pet owners started a campaign last month to put an end to “no pet” clauses in B.C.’s rental agreements, calling the practice discriminatory. But an association representing the province’s landlords says such a law could have unintended consequences that would make the situation worse for all renters.

“I’m empathetic to the situation but … I’m also very concerned that this is just the wrong time to do anything that would discourage people from being landlords,” said David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord BC.

“The more demands we put on that rental market … they’re just going to get out of business. That doesn’t do any good for anybody. There needs to be more sensitivity to that.”

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Renters who happen to have pets are not the only ones who have trouble finding a place to live, he pointed out. With vacancy rates hovering around one per cent in Vancouver and Victoria, many renters struggle to find an affordable home.

“We have a supply crisis here and we need to build more,” said Hutniak.

He wants to see the government encourage the construction of more purpose-built rental.

“What’s interesting is when we see the new product come online, they are increasingly pet-friendly buildings, which is a business decision made by these developers.”

That’s a better solution than putting the burden of allowing pets onto individual landlords, he said.

The secondary rental market, made up of secondary units like basement suites, is especially susceptible to anything that makes life harder for the landlord, he explained.  Many landlords are already listing their secondary suites on Airbnb instead, he said.

But organizers of the campaign to create more pet-friendly rental laws argue that B.C. could base its rental rules on Ontario, where the “no pets” clause has been banned from rental agreements for more than 20 years.

Hutniak, who is also chair of the national association of landlords, says the rental laws in Ontario are nothing to brag about.

“That’s not the model to point to,” he said.

While landlords are sensitive to the reality that most pet owners are responsible and good tenants, there are still many who are not, he said.

“I assure you, there isn’t a single rental housing provider who is enthusiastic about having to be forced to allow pets on their property.”

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