I have been living in Squamish for many years and the house that I have been renting has just been put up for sale.
I am a great tenant, can provide excellent references, and I work full-time.
I am clean and tidy and quiet and very respectful of my neighbours.
I can afford to pay 35% of my income towards rent, but when one-bedroom apartments start at $2,300, how can anyone afford to find a place to rent on their own?
I also have a small dog and two cats that are my emotional support animals and are very well-behaved. Spirit Creek denied my application for subsidized housing because of my animals. They have a strict one-pet policy.
Pet-friendly housing is considerably limited in British Columbia. Landlords and stratas can choose whether they will permit pets.
They can also restrict the size, kind or number of pets.
I am asking, can landlords reconsider the one-pet policy?
Not all pet guardians can afford to pay more to keep their family members. Across the province, about 25% of cats and dogs surrendered to the BC SPCA are given up by their guardians due to a lack of available pet-friendly housing.
This represents about 1,150 pets annually. Pet guardians also face heavy competition for housing due to B.C.’s low vacancy rate.
Tenants with pets also stay longer — an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for people without pets.
This saves landlords from spending time and money finding new, reliable tenants. Moreover, there is no statistically significant difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.
Another direct benefit is increased security, as pet guardians are the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood during late-night and early-morning dog walks.
Plus, dogs often stay behind to protect the home when their guardians go out. Almost 80% of B.C. residents favour legislation that allows pet guardians the right to keep companion animals, according to a 2008 poll (McIntyre & Mustel).
Pet guardians also face heavy competition for housing due to B.C.’s low vacancy rate. Studies have shown that they help reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and stress in people.
They also assist children with the development of language skills, empathy, responsibility and self-esteem.
Pet damage deposits are generally treated the same as security deposits and are used to repair any damage left by a pet at the end of the tenancy.
I can pay half a month’s rent as a pet deposit and take full responsibility if any damage occurs. Yet even with this in place, landlords are reluctant to rent to people with more than one animal.
Let’s be clear; some toddlers can do more damage in an hour than some pets ever do in a lifetime. You wouldn’t ask a family to give up one of their children, so why would you ask a pet guardian to give up one of their Emotional Support Animals?
Come on, Squamish landlords; please start being realistic with your rental rates and pet policies. A huge population of people earn less than $50,000 a year and need somewhere to live!