Pets OK BC is an initiative created by a broad coalition of citizens and nonprofit organizations from across British Columbia. Our primary goal is to strike down laws in BC that allow property owners to impose unfair “no pets” policies on tenants in rental housing, and that allow Strata Corporations to impose pet restrictions on owners of Strata properties.
The specifics: we are urging the government to repeal and replace Sections 18 (1) (2) and (3) of the Residential Tenancy Act [S.B.C. 2002, c.78], Sections 18 (1) and (2) of the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act [S.B.C. 2002, c.77], Section 123 (1) of the Strata Property Act [S.B.C. 1998, c. 43], and repeal Section 3(4) of the Schedule of Standard Bylaws in the Strata Property Act [S.B.C. 1998, c. 43]. Doing so would allow tenants (and in some cases, owners) of all of these types of properties to keep pets in their homes.
Under the current versions of these laws, many tenants and property owners with pets across the Province are subjected to blanket “no pets” policies and bylaws. These indiscriminate rules are based on common misconceptions about the law, about relationships between human and nonhuman companion animals, and/or about the data on tenancies, property, insurance, and the business of property management. Please see our FAQ page for more information about these misconceptions.
BC has a glaring lack of availability of pet friendly housing, amidst historically low vacancy rates overall. Because “no pets” policies can be imposed with impunity in rental agreements and strata bylaws across the province, many families, senior citizens, persons living with disabilities, and other individuals are forced to part with their nonhuman companions with alarming regularity. According to the BC SPCA, 1,774 animals were surrendered to their shelters because of “no pets” restrictions in 2016. That’s 5 per day, on average, and the number rises each year. And, that doesn’t include the hundreds of animals surrendered annually to the many other rescue organizations across BC.
The moral and legal precedent for this initiative is clear. In other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world, modern laws that prevent unreasonable “no pets” policies have been drafted, adopted, and proven to work, for decades. Ontario abolished “no pets” policies in rental housing in 1990. The world hasn’t ended in Ontario. Landlords in Ontario can still have pets who cause problems removed from their properties (for instance, if the pet is “making too much noise, damaging the unit, causing an allergic reaction to others, or is considered to be inherently dangerous”). This is a much fairer system than the one we have in BC, where “no pets” policies can be applied indiscriminately, which can result in unfair evictions and/or pet surrender to our overburdened animal shelters. We are long overdue for this change.
And people in BC want this change to happen, overwhelmingly. According to a poll commissioned by the BC SPCA in 2002 (McIntyre & Mustel), 79% of British Columbians agree with us that unreasonable “no pets” policies should be abolished.
We launched an online petition in 2015, which received over 14,000 verified signatures from BC residents in a few short months. On the strength of this confirmed mandate (and in part because the BC Legislature does not accept electronic petitions), we have pushed ahead to launch a formal petition to the BC Legislature to introduce these needed changes. We are also making this an election issue in 2017, putting pressure on MLA candidates of all political stripes to assure their constituents that they support this initiative and will act on it. Given that housing accessibility and animal rights and welfare are both pivotal election issues in 2017, and given the massive outpouring of support we’ve seen for our campaign in a few short months, it’s clear this is something our future representatives in Victoria can get behind. Some sitting MLAs have already extended support to this cause, and more political candidates are expected to follow them soon.
Please join and support our efforts to make housing accessible for everyone in BC – including people with pets. More information about how you can get involved is here.