Rental Access

Dog owners often have great difficulty finding rental accomodation in Greater Victoria.

Citizen Canine has developed a series of resources to assist with this problem and hopefully change property owner’s perspectives about dog owners.

Citizen Canine’s Dog Friendly Rental Program

A PROPERTY OWNER’S GUIDE

As a property owner, do you want to

• Enhance profitability?

• Lower your vacancy rates?

• Reduce turnover?

• Broaden your pool of prospective tenants?

• Promote a sense if tenant safety and security?

• Rent to happy and satisfied tenants?

Then consider the benefits of opening your doors to responsible dog owners as renters.

Landlords Say Yes to Dogs

Experiences of property owners who rent to dog owners.

The words “dogs okay” sure brings in the calls, says Eileen Richards, owner of several houses and duplexes who has been in the rental business here for six years. “I make it my policy to always consider renting to dog owners. You get a different type of person when you advertise that you take dogs–people who are looking for long-term rentals and are appreciative of finding a nice place to call home. I think pet people are more stable tenants.”

Eileen always screens applicants carefully and she checks with the potential tenant’s previous landlord to be sure there haven’t been any problems in the past. “Then I establish a few basic rules and get a signed agreement and I’ve had very few troubles,” she says. “In fact, having a dog on the property can be a deterrent to break-ins and increases security in the building.”

——–
Apartment owner Rob Simpson looks for responsible people as renters and says he prefers to rent to dog owners. “I think it takes a responsible person to properly care for a pet–and that type of responsibility extends to their taking care of the property,” he says.

“I’ve had good success with renting to people with dogs as long as the expectations are clearly set out. I think that responsible pet owners actually make better tenants because they value their rental accommodation.”

——–

“I’ve never had problems with people who have pets,” says property owner June Becker, “but I’ve had problems with people who don’t have pets!” Becker always checks references from previous rental situations and makes a point of meeting the dog to see if it’s well-groomed and well-behaved. She sees this as an indicator of the potential tenant’s responsibility. “I don’t find it necessary to charge a pet deposit but I make sure that some basic ground rules like “Pick up after your dog,” are established from the start,” she says.

Dogs in Rental Housing: Myths and Realities

Myth:
If I let one tenant have a dog, I’ll have to let everyone have one.

Reality:
Many landlords fear that if they allow dogs they will be overrun with irresponsible pet owners and the problems they create. But with a few simple procedures and precautions, landlords can successfully screen out these people without penalizing responsible dog owners who will make excellent tenants.

Myth:
One might be okay, but more than one is just too many.

Reality:
In some cases, a second pet may actually make life easier all around. Most companion animals, including dogs and cats, are social beings and companionship is one of their highest priorities. For a pet that spends a lot of time alone, a playmate will help alleviate boredom. And the playmates need not be of the same species: many dogs and cats, for instance, can become the best of friends when raised together or properly introduced.

Myth:
Dogs need big back yards and someone to be at home with them all day.

Reality:
Dogs do need regular exercise and a chance to spend time with their human caretakers. But when these requirements are met, dogs can be happy in the city or in the country. Convenient access to leash optional dog parks makes exercise and socialization fun for both owner and dog.

Myth:
Small dogs are ok, but big dogs just aren’t suited to apartment life.

Reality:
It’s not a dog’s size that determines how well it will do in rental housing; it’s a dog’s energy level and exercise requirements that are important. Many large dogs tend to be more laid-back and easy going that their tiny counterparts. More active breeds may require a greater commitment from their owners to ensure these animals get the exercise they need. Other factors, such as age and temperament, can also be important. Older dogs, even large ones, are generally less active than puppies.

Myth:
If I allow a dog in my rental property it will chew things and do a lot of damage.

Reality:
Most puppies go through a period of chewing as their adult teeth emerge but adult dogs rarely chew on things. There are ways that responsible owners can prevent puppies from doing damage during the teething period. Your pet agreement should specify that the tenant will be responsible for repairing any damage caused by the dog.

Myth:
Dogs can spread diseases to other pets and people in my apartment block.

Reality:
Dogs can be protected from diseases through a routine vaccination program. Ask your tenants to show proof from a veterinarian of vaccinations and make sure they are responsible about picking up after their dog and you should have no problems.

Myth:
If I allow dogs in my complex they will bark all day and bother other people in the complex.

Reality:
While it is expected and normal that dogs will bark from time to time, usually this will occur only if there is someone at the door. This type of “alarm barking” can be a positive thing as it alerts tenants to unexpected visitors or unusual occurrences. Most dogs do not bark for long periods, but if a dog does bark excessively, there are ways that a responsible owner can solve the problem. As a last resort there are bylaws about excessive noise from dogs and the municipal bylaw enforcement officer can deal with it.

Successful Pet Policies

A GUIDE FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

Here are some guidelines for property owners to consider when setting up a pet policy. These are not hard and fast rules; policies for individual properties should be designed to best meet your specific needs.

Start with screening.

Careful screening of prospective tenants is the first step to a successful pet policy. By asking a few simple questions, property owners can screen out irresponsible pet owners and find the responsible ones who will make good tenants.

You can adapt the PET APPLICATION for use as part of your application process.

Put it in writing.

A written agreement protects the interests of both the property owner and tenant, and pet rules and procedures will help avoid misunderstanding. See the sample PET AGREEMENT and PET POLICY.

Charging pet deposits.

These may vary, depending on the nature of each rental. In British Columbia, landlords may charge up to one half of the first month’s rent as a security or deposit, as well as an additional one half month’s rent as a pet deposit.

Set parameters.

Should certain types of pets be confined to the tenant’s apartment?

Should other pets be permitted in all or only parts of the common areas? Should dogs be leashed within hallways and other communal areas? Should pet waste be disposed of in a specific manner or specific receptacle? It’s important to establish pet regulations in advance—before any conflicts arise.

Ensure cleanliness.

A responsible pet owner will agree to immediately pick up and dispose of dog feces, bag kitty litter before placing it in the garbage containers, and take other necessary sanitation measures. Owners should be prepared to provide evidence of flea control measures for pets that go outdoors.

Consider requiring spaying and neutering.

Spayed and neutered animals are generally healthier, less distracted and better behaved, and may be more suited to apartment living that their unaltered counterparts. Tenants may request consideration of an exemption for their intact dog, for example for a working dog or a male in a breeding program. Include this information in your guidelines. It is reasonable to request a Veterinarian note, in this case, for the tenant’s file.

Determine emergency arrangements.

Property owners may want to get contact information from the tenant for substitute caretakers in case of emergency. Pet owners are responsible for their pets during mock evacuation drills and/or natural and man made disasters including gas leak, flood or fire. The better prepared the pet owner, the better care the pet will receive.

Put disciplinary procedures in writing and enforce them fairly.

These procedures might include a provision for warning(s) before any punitive measures are taken. Whatever the policy, fair and consistent enforcement will reduce disputes and make for better relations between management and tenants.

Tell tenants about available services.

Dog owners in Victoria are fortunate to have many services and resources at their disposal. Dozens of dog walkers and pet sitters are available in the region, as well as dog training classes and lowcost spay/ neuter clinics.

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