Vancouver City Council looking to change "no pets" rules in rental contracts

Oct 6 2020, 1:27 am

A new motion dealing with the restrictions on having pets in rental housing will be deliberated by Vancouver City Council on Tuesday.

COPE councillor Jean Swanson and Green Party councillor Pete Fry have submitted a motion calling on the provincial government to ban “no pets” clauses in rental contracts, and request city staff to look into mechanisms the municipal government can use to curb landlords’ right to refuse rental on the basis of pet ownership.

This motion, submitted on behalf of the municipal government’s Renters’ Advisory Committee’s liaison city councillors, cites BC SPCA’s report that the “no pets” policies are the leading cause for the surrender and abandonment of pets, and COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing problem.

“Under the guidelines set forth by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbians have been strongly encouraged to practice physical distancing with all but one’s own household. Social distancing is particularly difficult for seniors, under housed individuals, and those who live alone. It has become clear that pets can help ease this isolation,” reads the motion.

“The current legislation discriminates against renters that have pets and are trying to find affordable housing in BC.”

The motion points to Ontario’s direction for decades that prohibits “no pets” rules in rental homes.

This is one of the four housing-related motions scheduled to be discussed by city council during Tuesday’s meeting.

Another motion, also submitted jointly by Swanson and Fry on behalf of the committee, asks Mayor Kennedy Stewart to advocate the provincial government for a rent forgiveness program for those who cannot pay their full rent due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, and that the accumulation of debt through “rent banks” are an unacceptable solution to missed payments during the pandemic.

Stewart also has a motion that seeks city council’s permission to advocate the provincial government to fulfill its commitment to clarify and prevent renovictions under the Residential Tenancy Act through legislative changes.

If there is no provincial commitment to address evictions for renovations by the end of this year, city council will direct staff to prepare a report in 2021 that recommends ways to protect renters during renovations or repairs on rental homes.

One other motion by Fry asks city staff to explore the feasibility of widening housing options by allowing tiny homes, including the design and framework code, the required bylaw changes, and potential locations, whether be through temporary zoning of vacant pre-development sites or a new option for infill and secondary units.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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