BC landlords have the right to decide whether or not pets are allowed on their property. They can prohibit them completely. Or, they can set limits on the number, size or type that is allowed. If your landlord allows you to have a pet, it is important to document that permission in your tenancy agreement. Don’t rely on verbal permission alone – make sure it is in writing.
Sneaking a pet into your tenancy is not recommended. If you get caught, you could be found to have breached a term of your tenancy agreement. You could be forced to choose between moving out or giving up your pet.
Remember that your pet, just like you, has to put their best self forward. The landlord should be confident about you and your pet. To inspire confidence, consider providing your landlord with positive information about your pet. Do you have pet references? Information about the breed? Certificates from a Training Academy? You need to show that you are not only a responsible pet owner, but that your pet has a history of being non-destructive, reasonably quiet, and friendly to neighbours.
If your tenancy agreement has a term about pets, your landlord may require a pet damage deposit of up to ½ of one month’s rent, either at the start of the tenancy or at any point during your tenancy when you get a pet. If your tenancy is covered by the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act, your landlord is not allowed to require a pet damage deposit.
If your pet causes extraordinary damage, or unreasonably disturbs others, your landlord may issue a one month notice to end tenancy, in addition to applying to keep all or part of the pet damage deposit. You are responsible for the behaviour of your pets.
You and your landlord are required to complete a condition inspection report at the start of your tenancy, and at any point during your tenancy when you get a pet. If you do not participate in the inspection, you may lose the right to the return of your pet damage deposit. If your landlord does not provide two opportunities to do the inspection, or provide you with a completed copy of the report, they may lose their right to claim against your pet damage deposit for damages.
If you get a pet without permission, your landlord may ask you to remove it.
If the “no pets” clause is a material term of your tenancy agreement (a term so important that, if it is not followed, the tenancy cannot continue), your landlord may give you a written warning. If you do not comply with this warning, they could then give you a One Month Eviction Notice. At this point, you could try to challenge the eviction notice by applying for dispute resolution. If the arbitrator determines that the “no pets” clause is indeed a material term, then the eviction will be upheld.
However, even if the “no pets” clause is not a material term, an arbitrator could still determine that it is a standard term and order you to comply with it. At that point, if you do not remove your pet, you could once again be given a warning letter and/or One Month Eviction Notice for failing to comply with a Residential Tenancy Branch order.
Sometimes a landlord will know that a tenant is violating their tenancy agreement, but ignore it for an extended period of time. If this happens, the “no pets” clause would likely not be considered a material term, meaning the landlord may not be able to immediately issue a written warning and One Month Eviction Notice. Instead, they would probably have to apply for dispute resolution in order to obtain a Residential Tenancy Branch order to comply with the “no pets” clause. At the dispute resolution hearing, you could argue that by ignoring the “no pets” clause, the landlord has completely waived their right to have it as part of the tenancy agreement.
If you have a dog that falls under the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act, your landlord must allow it and cannot charge a pet damage deposit.
- Guide Dog and Service Dog Act Section 3 – Tenancy
- RTR Schedule Section 3 – Pets
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 47 – Landlord’s Notice: Cause
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 38 – Return of Security Deposit and Pet Damage Deposit
- Residential Tenancy Act Section 18 – Terms Respecting Pets and Pet Damage Deposits