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End landlords' pet discrimination, says Port Moody council

Pets are part of the family, and families with pets shouldn’t have a harder time finding a home, says a Port Moody councillor. At its meeting Feb.
Port Moody council wants the province to ensure pet owners aren't discriminated against by landlords or strata corporations. Last week councillors approved sending a resolution to this fall's convenction of the Union of BC Municpalities asking for changes to the strata and tenancy acts to protect pet owners.

Pets are part of the family, and families with pets shouldn’t have a harder time finding a home, says a Port Moody councillor.

At its meeting Feb. 25, Port Moody council unanimously approved sending a resolution to this fall’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention calling for the provincial strata and residential tenancy acts to eliminate discrimination against pet owners.

Coun. Amy Lubik, a pet owner, said strata rules and landlords who don’t accommodate people with pets contribute to the province’s housing crisis. She said people sometimes have to make a choice between keeping their pet in the family or having a stable, affordable home.

“One of the reasons people end up homeless or in substandard housing is because of pets,” she said, adding organizations like Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue are seeing a growing number of owners surrendering their cats because they can’t find an affordable home that will allow pets.

Lubik said while local governments don’t have the authority to disallow discrimination against pet owners by stratas or landlords, “it’s important we do what we can that all our residents and their furry family members are welcome in the community.”

Coun. Hunter Madsen, who has a dog, said pets present about as much nuisance as does renting a home to a family with kids, seniors, an opera singer or a preference for cooking with garlic, “but the reality is we don’t allow the law to discriminate against these, and the same things goes with pets.”

But Coun. Zoe Royer, who noted her experience as a landlord, wondered whether such inclusivity should extend to more exotic pets like “chinchillas, or the pet rat that has the run of the house.” She said there needs to be “some sort of mechanism” to protect landlords and stratas against irresponsible pet ownership.

Madsen conceded while that likely means higher damage deposits for tenants with pets, there’s already protection against owning exotic animals in various municipal bylaws and provincial laws.

(B.C. regulations already allow landlords to charge an extra damage deposit equivalent to half a month's rent for a tenant with a pet.)

“If the pet is legal to possess is one barrier,” he said.

Lubik agreed, saying pet owners do have an obligation to not take advantage of their right to have pets.

“If you have a python and you let it roam in your house, I don’t think that’s good pet ownership,” she said.

• Port Moody council also voted to support the resubmission to the UBCM of a resolution calling for greenhouse gas limits on new buildings to be included in the provincial building code as well as a request that 1% of the provincial sales tax be dedicated to local governments to help municipalities cover increasing costs for things like housing, food security and preparing for climate change.