Renters pay pet deposit, not pet rent

Pets may cost you a place to live or a deposit

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(Getty Images/Zoom Photographics)

(Getty Images/Zoom Photographics)

Would you be surprised if your landlord asked you for a pet security deposit? What if your landlord asked you for pet rent? In the US, more and more landlords are starting to tack on $10 to $50 per month in what is known as “pet rent.” You can read the story on the Canadian Business site here.

Now, if you’re a renter, don’t worry: Landlords in Canada cannot charge pet rent. It’s totally and utterly illegal.

Landlords can, however, charge pet security deposits at least in the vast majority of provinces and territories (and the law is ambiguous in others).

But why? Why would a landlord bother to ask for a sum of money just to cover potential, future damage by Fido or Kitty? That’s how one landlord I knew responded when asked, two years ago, if he would charge a pet deposit.

Then came the professional tenants. Renters who know how to work the system and take advantage of the law in order to live rent free, at least for a while.

After almost eight months of Tenant Board hearings my friend, the landlord, was eventually allowed to legally evict this family. It was only then he realized the amount and extent of damage that was done to the unit—most of which was done by a dog. The dog had defecated and urinated so frequently in the marble-tiled vestibule that the tiles were now permanently stained yellow and the house stunk of urine and feces. After an almost $10,000 clean-up charge—that included having to jack-hammer out the soiled tiles—my friend decided it was time to charge a “pet deposit.”

His rationale was this: If a tenant wants to own a pet, then they’d have to fork over some “insurance money for any anticipated costs spent on cleaning up after their pet.”

It’s sad, really, since the vast majority of renters are extremely respectful.

Still, it’s good to know which legal leg you stand on, whether you’re a renter or a landlord. That’s why I compiled a list of the pet deposit laws (and the renting laws regarding pets) in each of Canada’s provinces and territories. The information is gleaned from CMHC documents.

Alberta:

  • No legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • Landlords are allowed to refuse to rent to a tenant with pets but the tenanacy agreement (ie: lease) must state this.

British Columbia:

  • Landlord’s can charge 1/2 a month’s rent for a pet damage deposit (and this is in addition to any other deposit, such as a security deposit, or a key deposit).
  • A landlord can request a pet security deposit at any time during the tenancy, once a pet is brought into the unit.
  • A landlord may prohibit pets in a rental unit, but must include this exclusion in the tenancy agreement (and it must begin when the tenancy begins or the renter must voluntarily agree to an amendment during the tenancy).

Manitoba:

  • Landlord’s can charge 1/2 a month’s rent for a pet damage deposit.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to a tenant if they have a pet.
  • If new management takes over a rental building and wants to impost a no pets rule, then existing tenants with existing pets would be allowed to keep these pets, but would not be allowed to replace them.

Newfoundland & Labrador:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to a tenant if they have a pet.
  • If a lease states that pets are allowed, or the lease does not address this issue, then pets are permitted in the rental unit.

New Brunswick:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to a tenant if they have a pet.
  • Pet restrictions are strictly linked to a rental unit, not a person. That means that a “no-pets” clause in a residential lease may prohibit a renter from having a pet in the rental place, but doesn’t prevent the renter from owning a pet.
  • If a lease states that pets are allowed, or the lease does not address this issue, then pets are permitted in the rental unit.

North West Territories:

  • An additional pet deposit of no more than 50% of one montht’s rent can be charged by the landlord.
  • Within 10 days of a renter lawfully vacating a rental unit, the landlord must return the pet security deposit, with interest, and give the tenant an itemized statement of account for any part of the security deposit that is retained by landlord.
  • A landlord can keep all or part of the security deposit for repairs of damage caused by a tenant and their pet.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to tenants because of pets.

Nova Scotia:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can restrict pets in rental unit(s) as long as:
    • the rules apply to all rental units
    • are at the start of tenancy or, if amended by the landlord, four months notice is given before the anniversary of the date of the lease.

Nunavut:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord may refuse to rent to a tenant who has pets, unless the lease states that pets are allowed, or the lease doesn’t address this. If, however, the landlord is renting out public housing units, they cannot refuse to rent to a tenant with pets.

Ontario:

  • Landlords can collect a pet rent deposit that equals up to one month’s rent. However, this deposit cannot be a security deposit (as these are not allowed in Ontario). That means the landlord cannot apply this deposit to any damage caused by the pet and must return the deposit to the renter at the end of the tenancy (with interest, as stipulated by the guidelines).
  • The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) doesn’t cover individuals before they become tenants, so a landlord can refuse to rent to tenants with pets.

Prince Edward Island:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to potential tenants based on a pet exclusion.

Quebec:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to potential tenants based on a pet exclusion. However, a lease must address this issue. If it does not then pets are allowed in the rental unit.
  • Building by-laws can also prohibit pets, so renters should also review a building’s bylaws before signing a lease.

Saskatchewan:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • A landlord can refuse to rent to potential tenants based on a pet exclusion. However, a lease must address this issue. If it does not then pets are allowed in the rental unit.

Yukon:

  • There are no legal rules defining whether or not landlords can charge pet security deposits.
  • This territory’s Landlord and Tenant Act doesn’t address the issue as to whether or not landlords can refuse to rent because of pet exclusions.

As a general rule of thumb, the lease has the final word on whether or not pets will be allowed to live in a rental unit and whether or not a pet deposit will be required. Sometimes landlords are open to pets, and a quick discussion could find an amicable agreement to a renter’s desire to have a pet, and the landlord’s desire to protect their investment. However, any agreement reached verbally should be put in writing.

Also, certain kinds of property will have additional restrictions and legal obligations. For example, some condominium buildings won’t allow pets, even if the provincial rules have no restrictions on pets in rental apartments. A tenant must follow the rules of both the province and the condo, or they may face lawful eviction.

For more on rental laws in Canada, check out this great website.

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2 comments on “Renters pay pet deposit, not pet rent

  1. Just talked to the Government of Alberta, and as far as they are concerned a monthly fee for pets is quite ok. So we were gouged $1425.00 for 17 months and then charged $390.00 to supposidly Ozonate the house when we left. I think that there are a lot of slack rules in Alberta.

    Reply

  2. A lot of Landlords here in Saskatchewan charge both a pet deposit, plus pet rent. When you rent it costs you lots if you want to have a pet. Don’t know what the government’s stand on it is.

    Reply

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