Vancouver rental pet policy not up to par for West End residents

Vancouver may be moving to a solution for renters with pets in the notoriously low-vacancy rental climate. Until now, the situation has been unencouraging for them.

The issue was put aside during the 2014 civic election, but has recently been brought to attention at a Renters Advisory Committee meeting on Nov. 23, 2016. Joshua Prowse, a lawyer who sits on the committee, presented a draft motion to see more pet-friendly units in the city — particularly to aid low-income pet owners seeking publicly-funded housing.

For West End resident Derek Hamanishi , the only reason he was able to secure an apartment downtown that accommodated his 25-lb Shiba Inu was because he befriended the building manager while subletting for a friend. Otherwise, he said he’d been turned away by 90 percent of landlords with a stringent “No Pets” policy.

“If there’s no pets allowed, why are there so many dogs on the West End?” – Derek Hamanishi, West End resident

“It took probably three to four months, which I found a little unusual,” he said. “I’ve been downtown quite a bit, and every block I turn, there’s a dog. So if there’s no pets allowed, why are there so many dogs on the West End?”

Since the BC SPCA has recorded that 20 per cent of all pet surrenders (1,500 a year) are due to people facing pet-prohibitive rental prospects, an amendment would help prevent separating pets from their owners. Prowse’s motion recommends that City Council requests ways that the provincial Tenancy Act better support renters with pets.

During consultations during their 2016 People, Parks and Dogs strategy, the Vancouver Park Board revealed that almost half of Vancouverites own a dog. Considering downtown Vancouver houses multiple off-leash dog parks and a seemingly endless amount of beaches and trails, the argument for more lenient pet-tenancy laws is powerful for many residents.

For Hamanishi, the abundance of “No Pets” signs on buildings is astonishing and confusing since he has only encountered pet-positive receptions from neighbours.

“[Otherwise] it is totally dog-friendly Vancouver in the downtown core,” he said. “I’ve never had any issues with my dog being downtown.”

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