There is a lack of pet-friendly rental housing in our province. Approximately five percent of rental suites and condominiums allow dogs, and approximately nine percent allow cats. Add to this the low vacancy rate in BC, and you don’t have many places for people with pets to rent.
Nearly 80 per cent of BC residents are in favour of legislation that allows pet guardians the right to keep companion animals.
There are a number of benefits to providing pet-friendly housing, as well. People with pets will pay between 20 and 30 percent more for housing, which provides landlords with increased rental income. People with pets also tend to stay longer; the average stay for people with pets is 48 months, and only 18 months for those without. Pet guardians have a vested interest in being good tenants!
Allowing dogs in a rental complex has security benefits, as well; many dog owners will be out walking their dogs late at night and early in the morning, which means that there are eyes and ears out there making sure nothing suspicious is happening. And finally, companion animals decrease loneliness, anxiety, and stress, which is of benefit to the community generally. They also help children learn language skills, as well as helping them develop empathy, responsibility, and self-esteem.
There are so many benefits to allowing pets in rental housing, and so many ways landlords can safeguard their interests. Next time, I will give some ways that landlords can ensure that their tenants with pets will be accountable, as well as some ideas for renters to use to persuade landlords to rent to them.
There is a huge need for pet-friendly rental housing in our communities. This requires change: landlords need to allow pets on their premises, and pet guardians need to be responsible tenants. Landlords can choose whether or not they will allow pets, and there are ways to ensure that their tenants with pets will be accountable.
Some things landlords can do to make sure their tenants with pets will be responsible include:
Charging a one-time pet damage deposit, in addition to the normal security deposit, which can be up to 50 percent of one month’s rent;
Setting limits as to what type of pets a tenant may have, the size allowed, and the number permitted;
Requiring tenants to sign a pet policy (what constitutes proper pet behaviour, policy regarding vaccination and identification, and restrictions as to where on the property the animals are permitted to be;
Inspecting a pet-friendly unit on a monthly basis to assess the condition; and
Conducting a tenant interview and requiring the pet to be present.
Pet guardians also can do things to help their case:
Creating a resume for your pets, including references (such as trainers, veterinarians, previous landlords, and past neighbours);
Ensuring your pet is well-groomed and well-mannered, spayed or neutered, and wearing proper identification;
Providing certificates or letters that show completion of obedience or other training classes, as well as health certificates and photos; and
Giving the opportunity to meet your pet.
If we all work together, we can all find a place to live, human and animal alike!