No one should be forced to choose between a place to live, and keeping a member of their family. But sadly, that’s a decision facing many companion animal guardians in Canada.
Canada is facing a housing crisis, with sky-high rents and tight housing supply. For the estimated 58% of households with at least one cat or dog, finding rental housing is an even greater challenge because in most provinces, landlords are allowed to unfairly restrict pets. People are often confronted with the heartbreaking decision to surrender their cat or dog–who they consider family—in order to keep a roof over their heads.
The lack of pet-friendly rental accommodation is also affecting animal shelters and humane societies, which are close to or at capacity. Animals are being surrendered to shelters because their families can’t find affordable housing that allows pets. The PEI Humane Society, for example, saw a 134% increase in surrendered animals in 2022.
Pet-Friendly Provisions are Better for Everyone
Some provinces have“pet-friendly” housing rules or have considered adopting them. This protects animals and their families who seek rental security, but also benefits landlords and the housing market more generally. Increasing the supply of pet-friendly rental options can lead to improved housing marketability for landlords, greater occupancy stability, and the building of stronger, stable communities.
Offering pet-friendly rental housing does not need to tie a landlord’s hands when it comes to concerns about companion animals. Rental agreements can still promote responsible pet ownership and accountability for any potential damage caused.
Ontario’s Pet-Friendly Provisions
Ontario has banned “no pet” clauses in leases since 1997. Landlords can refuse to rent to someone with a pet, but they are not permitted to include “no pet” clauses in rental agreements, cannot charge a “pet deposit”, and cannot evict a tenant simply because they choose to get a pet. Unfortunately, Once a lease is signed, they can only take action if an animal is making too much noise, damaging the unit, causing an allergic reaction to others, or is considered to be inherently dangerous—and they must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for permission to act
The rules in condo buildings are different, and condo boards are generally allowed to restrict the size or number of animals—so long as the pet bylaws are reasonable and consistently enforced. Ontario’s Condominium Act offers a process for animal disputes in condo buildings, with animal guardians filing directly with the Condominium Authority Tribunal over disputes about condo bylaws affecting animals.
PEI’s New Residential Tenancy Act
The PEI legislature recently amended the province’s Residential Tenancy Act. But unfortunately, the government rejected a proposal that would have outlawed arbitrary and unfair “no pet” clauses in rental agreements.
Finding rental housing in PEI has become increasingly difficult and without new laws protecting families with pets, companion animals are at risk of being abandoned, surrendered, and euthanized. Animal Justice worked with Islanders to call on the Premier and Minister of Social Development and Housing, asking that they protect families with companion animals and support a healthier housing market on the island.
Elsewhere in Canada
As provinces update their housing regulations, Animal Justice is supporting those demanding pet-friendly rules that protect animals and encourage a healthy housing market. Join us for updates.