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The Montreal SPCA Launched A Petition To Make It Illegal For Landlords To Ban Your Pets

The petition calls on the provincial government to abolish no-pet clauses in residential leases.

Contributing Writer
Leashed dog with the Montreal SPCA logo on a brick wall in the background (left); smiling dog and curious-looking cat sitting on a blanket (right).

Leashed dog with the Montreal SPCA logo on a brick wall in the background (left); smiling dog and curious-looking cat sitting on a blanket (right).

Courtesy of the Montreal SPCA, @spcamontreal | Instagram

It’s a doggone travesty — Montrealers are discarding their cats and dogs at shelters because there's not enough pet-friendly housing, according to the SPCA.

"It's a problem every year," said Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy and legal affairs at the Montreal SPCA. "Near moving season, we're flooded with calls from people that are not able to find housing that allows them to keep their animals. They're basically asking for help."

"Fast forward to the weeks leading up to the infamous moving day of July 1 in Montreal and we are witnessing scenes that are really tragic," she continued. "People that love and care for their animals, that are responsible pet owners, are basically forced to surrender them to a shelter."

Last June, over a hundred distressed families contacted the organization to do just that.

To solve this hairy problem, the Montreal SPCA has launched a petition calling on the provincial government to abolish no-pet clauses in residential leases, as part of its Keeping Families Together campaign.

The petition, which is being supported by MNA Manon Massé, was launched on April 4 at the National Assembly and has already received 6,262 signatures at time of writing.

Low-income households are disproportionally affected

No-pet clauses disproportionately impact low-income families, according to a news release, and our escalating housing affordability crisis is making things worse.

"Nearly one animal per day ends up being abandoned at the Montreal SPCA due to a move," it states. "No-pet clauses in residential leases have devastating effects, not only on the families who find themselves unable to keep their animal, but on the animals themselves."

In addition to inflation, which is making everything from cat toys to doggie treats more expensive, average rent in the city increased 3.7% this year, states the release.

Pets made our lives better during the pandemic and they deserve recompense

As Quebecers have turned to pets, with their adorableness and unconditional love, to cope with this horrible pandemic, the need for animal-friendly housing has grown.

According to the SPCA, more than half of Quebec households (52%) have a dog or cat. This year alone, about 200,000 animals were added to the total population of around 3.25 million pets.

"People have even more pets than before the pandemic so we're bracing ourselves for a particularly difficult year," said Gaillard. "And yet, it doesn't seem to be the case that landlords are increasingly accepting pets."

"It's an animal welfare issue but also a social justice issue," she continued.

They did this in France and Ontario and things have been fine

When asked whether eliminating no-pet clauses would be unpopular with landlords, fearful of property-damaging pets and irresponsible owners, Gaillard noted the clauses have been eliminated in both France and Ontario for many decades, "and there has been no apocalypse, you know? Things are doing just fine in those two jurisdictions."

"We already have a very strong legal framework that protects landlords in case of damage, whether it's damage caused by a tenant or the tenant’s animal," she continued. "In any case, the tenant is liable and has to repair or compensate for damages that are caused. So, the protections are already in place, and they'll continue to be in place, even if no-pet clauses are banned."

In addition, exceptions could be made for people with severe pet allergies. "We wouldn't want them to be forced to accept animals. But this would be an extremely small minority of people who are allergic to that degree," said Gaillard.

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