CHARLOTTETOWN—Animal Justice, a national animal law advocacy organization, is calling on the PEI legislature to amend the new Residential Tenancy Act bill to protect families with pets from facing discrimination in rental housing. The government introduced the bill on Tuesday, and it is expected to be debated and voted on in the legislature as soon as Friday.
Despite calls from Islanders, Animal Justice, and the PEI Humane Society, the new bill still allows landlords to refuse to rent to families who have companion animals, and lets them include arbitrary and unfair “no pet” clauses in rental agreements.
Animal Justice wrote to housing minister Matthew MacKay and premier Dennis King on November 1, 2022 to request pet-friendly provisions in the Residential Tenancy Act, pointing out that Ontario has banned “no pet” clauses in leases since 1997.
“Families across PEI are deeply connected to their companion animals,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Without new laws protecting families with pets from discrimination, animals are at risk of being abandoned, surrendered, and euthanized. Meanwhile, the already-difficult task of finding housing in PEI is being made even more challenging for families who share their lives with cats and dogs.”
Finding rental housing in PEI has become increasingly difficult. For families with companion animals, this situation is even more challenging, and people are often confronted with the heartbreaking decision of having to surrender their cat or dog, whom they consider to be a part of their family, in order to afford a roof over their head. The presence of no-pet provisions disproportionately affects low-income families.
According to the PEI Humane Society, the shelter has seen a 134 percent increase in the number of animal surrenders in 2022. The animals that are being brought to the Humane Society are well-loved, but their owners have run out of options while seeking safe and affordable rental housing.
According to data from the Canadian Animal Health Institute, as of 2020, it is estimated that 58% of Canadian households have at least one cat or dog.
Executive Director, Animal Justice