Despite the difficulties of finding pet-friendly rentals, almost one million Canadians have welcomed their first pet to their family during the pandemic. Unfortunately, landlords who refuse pets have become one of the most common reasons for Canadians to surrender their pets to shelters.
When done right, creating a pet-friendly rental does not have to come with damages and stress. Plus, fewer families will have to choose between their beloved pets and a place to live. There can be many benefits to renting to pet owners, and each provincial Residential Tenancy Act lays out the rights and restrictions available to landlords.
If you’re a landlord considering renting to pets in your rental properties, here are some benefits, tips and provincial regulations on renting with pet owners.
Pet-friendly rentals aren’t widely available, and many landlords legally can and will refuse to rent to pet owners. Advertising your rental as pet-friendly can significantly increase potential tenant interest and shorter time on the market.
Since it can be hard to move places with pets for several reasons, most tenants will be more likely to renew a lease.
While it is illegal for a landlord to charge a “pet rent” in Canada, having a pet-friendly rental can allow landlords to ask for a higher amount of rent.
Depending on the provincial regulations, landlords can impose additional pet fees, either a one-time payment or a monthly fee or both. If stated in the provincial Residential Tenancy Act, landlords can also request an additional refundable pet damage deposit.
Owning pets isn’t cheap. In Canada, pet owners can expect to pay $3,724 yearly for a dog and $2,500 for a cat. Responsible pet owners tend to be accountable tenants, and if they take care of their pets, it gives reason to believe they will also take care of the rental. Since pet-friendly rentals are not easy to find, it provides more incentive to respect the property.
Ensuring your rental property is appropriate to host a pet might be the best bet to save yourself from more wear and tear damages in the future. Consider replacing the carpet in busy rooms with flooring like hardwood or tile, which are easier to clean and disinfect.
Tenants may also bring their own area rugs or mats to provide protection from wear and tear. When deciding on new paint colours for the walls, make sure to purchase easy-to-wash paints like high gloss finishes.
Each province and territory in Canada has a Residential Tenancy Act, which lays out the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. While deciding whether or not to allow pets into your rental, it’s essential to understand what the law states in your province.
Most of the provincial Residential Tenancy Acts cover the landlord’s rights to refuse tenants based on having pets, enforce a no-pet policy within a lease agreement, and request pet deposits or pet fees.
If your province allows landlords to impose restrictions on the types of pets, consider what pets would be appropriate in your rental unit. It’s perfectly fine to be picky with the kind of animals you’re comfortable renting to.
Landlords should research pets and breeds best-suited to the type of unit they own. For example, some of the best dog breeds for small condos and apartments are Boston terriers, bulldogs, and pugs.
Some provinces don’t allow landlords to choose how many pets a tenant can have in a household. If it’s not stated in the Residential Tenancy Act, contact your city or municipality to check for local by-laws.
If you decide to rent to pet owners, it’s important to include a pet policy within your lease agreement. A pet policy should go over your expectations for pet care and obligations, liabilities, and enforcements for the tenants if they own pets. The policy should lay out all rules the landlord wishes to have regarding renting to tenants with pets.
Ensure the pet policy follows your province’s Residential Tenancy Act, or it may not be enforceable. Sample pet addendums for rental agreements can be found on the Humane Society’s website.
Requiring valid identification, licenses, and vaccinations allows landlords to ensure everything is up to date and gives the notion of applicants being responsible pet owners and possible tenants. Pet licensing regulations can be found in your city municipal by-laws.
Most responsible pet owners will have their pets neutered as it’s typically vet-recommended. Studies show having pets neutered helps cut down on potential messes and improves the general attitudes of pets.
It’s always recommended to seek previous landlord references when screening tenants. Especially when screening tenants with pets, speaking with their current landlords may be a great way to understand the pet itself better and any incidents that may have occurred.
Questions you may ask previous landlords include:
Some policies may cover damages caused by pets within their liability coverage. If the tenant’s dog bites and injures a person, the insurance company may cover that situation. If the tenant’s pet causes extensive property damage and the landlord sues for damages, the insurance may cover the cost.
Requiring tenants to have coverage over liability can help landlords recover damages caused by the pets.
In some provinces, landlords have the right to request a refundable pet damage deposit used to cover any damages caused by the pet. If no damages occur other than normal wear and tear, the landlord must refund the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
It is legal for a landlord to request a non-refundable pet fee either upfront, monthly, or both in certain provinces. These fees are to cover either maintenance or other potential future costs.
Meeting the tenant’s pet before making a decision could give a landlord better insight into the general characteristics of the pet.
Consider some questions to ask the tenant regarding their pet:
It’s always best to check for yourself if any damage has been caused by pets. In cases of extensive damage, landlords can recover the costs or file an eviction order.
If you refuse to allow pets in your rentals, it can be a good idea to follow up that there are no breaches of the lease agreement. If so, in provinces that allow the enforcement of “no pet” provisions, the landlord may take action to request the pet be removed from the rental unit, or the tenant can face eviction.
If the provincial act allows “no pet” provisions, a landlord can take action upon tenants who have pets in the rental unit. Landlords must give proper written notice of eviction for a breach of the lease agreement and provide reasonable time for the tenants to remove the pet from the property. If the tenants do not remove their pets from the property, the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.
In provinces such as Ontario, “no pet” provisions are void and not enforceable, even if included in the lease agreement, and the landlord cannot evict tenants for having pets. However, this is only provided that the pet is not causing damages, disturbances, allergic reactions to other tenants, or a breed inherently dangerous, which could all be a reason for a landlord to evict. If a tenant’s pet caused extensive damages to the rental unit, the landlord could serve an N5 based on damages.
If the provincial Residential Tenancy Act allows landlords to charge a refundable pet deposit, both the landlord and tenant should inspect the property for damages at the end of the tenancy. The pet deposit can only be used to cover the damages caused by the tenant’s pet.
If the damages exceed the deposit amount, the landlord may claim the rest against the security damage deposit or the tenant if damages exceed both amounts.
Once the tenancy ends, the landlord must refund any unclaimed amount from the pet deposit to the tenant. Deadlines for the landlord’s time to return the deposit can be found in your provincial Residential Tenancy Act.
Pet-friendly rentals don’t have to be a burden on the landlord. There are many benefits to renting to pet owners, from having more applications to receiving more rent.
Following our tips on renting to pet owners could help you manage your pet-friendly rental without the stress of excessive damages and liability. With over half of Canadian households owning a pet, it may be time for more landlords to consider welcoming their tenants’ furry friends.
Our tenant pre-screenings with credit and background checks allow tenants to provide landlords with descriptions and photos of their pets. Order your Tenant Report today and learn more about who’s moving into your rental.