The City of White Rock does not have the power to take away landlord restrictions on renting to pet owners.
That’s the opinion from city lawyers, according to a report from planning and development services manager Greg Newman to the housing advisory committee.
At the committee’s Nov. 25 meeting, chaired by Coun. Anthony Manning, Newman said that municipalities do not have an ability to pass a law overriding the provincial Rental Tenancy Act.
Newman said a recent effort to remove such restrictions in Vancouver prompted a flurry of media reports that had stirred interest.
“There was coverage about the City of Vancouver essentially passing regulations prohibiting rental restrictions on pets,” he said.
“I know it’s a problem throughout the Lower Mainland, (and) Vancouver has different law-making powers than other municipalities in B.C., so I wanted to see if the City of White Rock could potentially look at passing a bylaw that would take away the ability of a landlord to restrict pets in a rental.”
But Newman said his check with city lawyers had confirmed that the city does not have the power, under the Residential Tenancy Act, to change either the provisions that allow landlords to place restrictions on pets, or those which set out the obligations of pet owners renting properties.
“The conclusion of the opinion was, though, that if this were something that the City wanted to pursue, that perhaps we would offer a request to the province to consider amending the legislation,” Newman added.
But there were no takers among members of the committee to make such a recommendation to council, with member Chip Bowness pointing out that such restriction would likely result in higher rents to cover the cost of damage that landlords face as a result of irresponsible pet owners.
In response to questions from committee member Marie Sabine about the size, number and type of pets the city would need to define, Newman said the provincial legislation already lays out landlords’ rights in this regard.
“I guess, for me, I don’t see an issue with a regular, not over-sized dog or a cat,” Sabine said.
“Many people live alone and can be lonely… (but) I don’t have a strong opinion either way.”
“When you have a pet-free building, what that naturally draws is people who don’t have pets,” Bowness noted.
“They ostensibly have rights as well, so I think it’s a little stickier than it looks. It sounds like a great idea, but is it a constitutional right to have a pet, for example? How far will this go?”