by Tammy Bauer, foster home, animal lover and landlord
There are often questions of what kinds of restrictions landlords are allowed to put on pets in their rentals. The short answer is in Alberta pets are not specified in the Residential Tenancies Act, so it is up to the landlord to decide if pets are permitted in a rental suite.
The long answer usually depends on what it says in your lease. Even in cases where you may be legally right, it’s best to try to get along with your landlord whenever possible.
What is a pet? A pet could be a dog, cat, snake, fish, bird, rabbit, etc. Puppies, kittens and other baby animals are also included as pets even though they do not count with Edmonton city bylaw licencing.
If you have a no pets allowed clause in your lease, no pets are allowed. If you would like to get a pet then speak to your landlord about it. If the landlord agrees, get the approval in writing. If your landlord changes his or her mind later, the no pets clause in the lease will trump a verbal agreement. Be clear on what type of pet and how many pets you are getting so that you don’t end up in a sticky situation later.
If pets are allowed or there is no mention of pets in the lease, pets are permitted! You are only restricted by local bylaws. But hold on! Talk to your landlord about the pets you plan to get. If the landlord intended for the rental to be pet-free but neglected to put a clause in the lease, it could be trouble if you bring home a pet. They can’t evict you for it, but your lease may not be renewed or your rent increase might be higher than you anticipated, leaving you scrambling for pet friendly accommodation. Communication with your landlord is key!
Your landlord might restrict the types of pets, height, weight, breed, quantity, fixed, vetted, etc, in the lease. It’s all completely legal. The landlord has the right to decide what pets are allowed in the suite.
Pets may be allowed on a case by case basis with approval in your lease. In this case, get each pet approved and don’t bring any new pets into the home without your landlord’s written approval.
If your suite is in a condo building, be sure to read over the building bylaws to ensure there are no pet restrictions that will affect you. Your landlord answers to the condo board and must abide by the bylaws. Even if your landlord approves your pets, if his or her decision isn’t in line with the bylaws you will eventually have a problem.
If you do rent a condo, be aware that your pets must always be on a leash in common areas and you are responsible for any damage they do in the hallways. Always pick up after your pet!
Extra Fees for Pets:
Your landlord might request a non-refundable pet deposit, or might ask for additional rent to have a pet. This is legal. The landlord may not request an additional refundable deposit if you’ve already paid a security deposit equal to one month’s rent.
What If you Break the Rules?
If you have a pet and it’s not permitted according to your lease, your landlord can serve you with an eviction notice or apply to the court to have you removed for a substantial breach of the tenancy agreement.
When you move out of your rental suite, be sure to repair any damage done by your pet and thoroughly clean the suite. If a suite is damaged beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can keep your security deposit, seek a judgement against you, and make a note on your credit. In some cases the landlord specifies that you must have the carpet professionally steam cleaned. If this is in your lease, then you must do it. If it’s not in your lease, you can rent a steam cleaner and clean the carpets yourself if you can prove you rented and used the steam cleaner. However, a professional steam cleaner is better at getting out stains than renting a steam cleaner, and there is a chance you can damage the carpet by misusing a rental steam cleaner.
Landlords, tenants and pets can all live peacefully. The most important thing to remember is to communicate with your landlord and to get your approvals in writing.
Residential Tenancies Act: