If you are a tenant looking to rent in Vancouver with pets, it is important to know your rights. There are many laws that protect tenants and landlords when it comes to pets.
A recent vote in Vancouver by City Council called for a province-wide prohibition on a landlord’s right to refuse rental based on pet ownership. But the process of ending the practice is still a long way off.
Residential Tenancy Act
If you live in BC and rent a home, you are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act. This law outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the province, and it cannot be avoided by your landlord or your tenancy agreement.
The RTA provides tenants with many protections, including the right to be heard by the Residential Tenancy Branch when there is a dispute between you and your landlord or lease agreement. In some cases, a dispute can be settled out of court using the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Dispute Resolution process.
You can also take a dispute to Small Claims Court or Supreme Court if you believe your rights have been violated. However, you should be aware that this is only for disputes between landlords and tenants that fit the criteria set out in the RTA.
It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to let you have pets in their property. They can, however, ask you for a pet damage deposit of not more than half a month’s rent and to pay an extra security deposit as well.
A security deposit can be paid in cash, but the total amount of all deposits must not exceed the equivalent of one month’s rent. Landlords can also ask for an additional deposit for any repairs or cleaning required because of a pet.
Another important thing to know about the Residential Tenancy Act is that it does not allow a landlord to increase your rental amount during your tenancy. This means that your monthly rent will remain the same for the entire length of your tenancy, unless you agree to a higher rental rate or the government decides to take over your rental property.
The Residential Tenancy Act can be a difficult piece of legislation to understand, but it is necessary to keep in mind that your rights as a tenant are protected under this law. If your landlord attempts to take advantage of this law by trying to limit your rights in any way, it may be time to consider filing a complaint with the Department of Justice.
Strata Property Act
The Strata Property Act governs the relations between strata corporations, their owners or tenants and their companion animals. It is not clear if the SPA allows or prohibits stratas from refusing pets in their buildings.
However, some strata corporations do have bylaws that restrict or ban pet ownership in their building. These bylaws may include restrictions on size and number of animals or a requirement that all pets are leashed at all times.
A strata corporation is also required to make sure that any new animals are brought into the community in a safe and humane manner. Depending on the specific bylaw, some stratas may allow owners, tenants and occupants to keep up to a reasonable number of fish, small aquarium animals and small caged mammals (up to 2 caged birds and one dog or cat), while others may restrict pets entirely.
Regardless of the specific bylaw, if an owner or tenant brings a pet into the strata lot and the corporation does not allow it, that is illegal under the SPA. The bylaw must be amended to permit the pet.
Under the Strata Property Act, a strata corporation is not permitted to screen or exclude a prospective tenant because of their race, colour or religion. Instead, they must provide a copy of the strata corporation’s bylaws and rules to each potential tenant.
It is also important for landlords to keep in mind that they are not allowed to charge rent based on age or gender. In addition, a strata corporation must provide all residents with the names of the current strata council and section executives.
In the case of a dispute between a tenant and a landlord, a strata can refer the matter to a Civil Resolution Tribunal for faster resolution. This can be a great solution for many disputes and is also a much cheaper alternative to a lawsuit.
The Strata Property Act is a complicated piece of legislation and it is best to work with an experienced strata lawyer to ensure that you are complying with all laws and regulations. BCREA offers free e-books and webinars to help you understand the intricacies of the Act.
Human Rights Code
The Human Rights Code is a provincial law that protects people against discrimination. It covers things such as jobs, housing and services and ensures that all people have equal access to these.
If you are a person who is discriminated against because of your race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, creed, religion, age, marital status, family status, gender or sexual orientation or because of your disability or if you receive public assistance, you can complain to the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. The Commission has a Tribunal that hears your complaint and decides whether you have been discriminated against or if there is an alternative remedy.
A member of the tribunal can decide that you have been discriminated against and can make an order that stops further discrimination from happening to you or other people. If you think that the member or panel’s decision is wrong, you may ask for a judicial review.
It can take a long time to get your human rights case heard. The case manager is your main contact with the tribunal and will make all of the arrangements for your hearing. The case manager will also check that all the forms are completed, and may conduct some pre-hearing conferences.
After the hearing, a member of the tribunal will give you an oral decision and will write up the decision some time later. If you have a challenge to this decision, you can ask the British Columbia Supreme Court for a judicial review.
The human rights process can be a long and complicated one, so it is a good idea to have a lawyer by your side. They will explain the law and help you prepare your case.
This is especially true if you are a woman, as women often have to go through more paperwork and procedures than men do. A lawyer can also ensure that you have all the evidence you need to support your case.
The Human Rights Code is a powerful tool to fight discrimination in BC. In fact, it is the main way that the government ensures that the province’s laws are in line with Canada‘s international human rights obligations.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing, including the sale or rental of dwellings. It states that you cannot be denied the right to rent or purchase property on the basis of your sex, race, religion, national origin, family status (including children), sexual orientation, disability, or lawful source of income.
While there are some situations where a landlord may have the right to refuse pets, most landlords must allow you to have animals in their property under certain circumstances. This is especially true if you have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), which is a type of animal certified by a medical professional to assist you with your physical or mental health disability.
However, you must know your rights under this law and be prepared to work with your landlord to achieve a mutually acceptable solution. There are a number of ways that you can do this, including filing a complaint with the local Human Rights Commission or with HUD, if your issue is more serious.
Some examples of prohibited actions under the Fair Housing Act include a landlord refusing to provide you with a place to live based on your sex, ethnicity or national origin; requiring you to pay a higher than normal security deposit because of your financial situation; and denying you access to privileges, services or facilities that are accessible to all other tenants in your building.
In addition, the Fair Housing Act prohibits a landlord from steering you towards neighborhoods and properties that are less likely to accommodate your needs. This is known as discriminatory Steering and is often referred to as “steering on the basis of association.”
The City of Vancouver has recently lobbied for an end to landlords who refuse pets in their rentals, and Port Moody council is following suit. On February 25, council unanimously approved sending a resolution to this fall’s Union of BC Municipalities convention calling for the provincial strata and residential tenancy acts to eliminate discrimination against pet owners in rental housing.
The Human Rights Clinic, a BC-based non-profit legal advocacy organization, says that it’s important to understand your rights under the Fair Housing Act. The organization argues that the Fair Housing Act has specific provisions for people with disabilities, including emotional support animals, and these rights must be respected by landlords.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.