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Renting With Pets

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Whether you’ve had a lifetime of ownership or considering it for the first time, living with a pet can be a wonderful experience. They are sources of entertainment, companionship and emotional support. 

But as living creatures, they’re not just another possession. Nor are they as simple as a houseplant. Our furry friends have physical and emotional needs that must be met in order to live their best lives. When choosing an apartment, there are several factors to consider.

Room to Zoom

Odds are, if you’re over 55 and moving into an apartment or condo, you’ve sold the family home and are downsizing into something a little more compact. Which makes sense; after decades of living, that three or four bedroom home can get to be a bit much. But what about Spot?

Keeping pets of a certain size - especially dogs - in a smaller space can be a challenge, even inadvisable. Animals of all types can act out in negative ways when kept in a space too small for their comfort, something that isn’t fair to either you or them.

At the very least, the apartment you choose to apply to should have ready access to outdoor spaces to take your dogs to, even in winter. Newer buildings, particularly ones considered luxury condos or apartments, may have extra amenities on the property to facilitate pet care, like dog runs or even pet spas. 

It’s not just about your pet’s size, however. The energy level and emotional state of your pet should be considered, too. Again with dogs, some breeds naturally require more outlets for their energy; something a small space may compromise. But even cats, birds and - in some cases, reptiles - could use a little more room to stretch their legs/wings/etc. Something as simple as large windows with great vistas and ready-made sunbeams to snooze in can go a long way in keeping your companion happy.

Looking to travel? The kind of pet you choose could have an impact, especially if you will be away for a while. Both taking them with you and leaving them behind both present their own challenges.

Following the Rules

When searching for an apartment, the rules regarding pets change depending on the province and municipality you live in. In Ontario, for example, things are fairly straightforward; you’re allowed to have pets in a rental property. Landlords are not allowed to place “no pet” provisions in their leases, nor can they charge pet-related deposits. This is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. 

However, not all provinces have the same protections. And municipalities have by-laws that affect all residences, regardless of whether they are owned or rented. Most of them involve licensing, limits on the number of animals you can keep in a space, or special provisions for animals considered exotic or dangerous. These will vary from place to place, so it’s a smart idea to check what they are for your area before moving into an apartment with a pet.

Also, even in the case where there are specific protections in place for tenants, those only apply after you sign the lease agreement. A potential landlord can deny your application because of your pet. You could choose not to mention your pet in the application, or simply get one later - once the lease is signed, it can’t be overturned simply because you have a pet. This could set up an unwanted, adversarial relationship between you and your landlord, however.

Some building managers have no problem with pets; they will usually indicate this on their rental listing as ‘pet friendly.’ There are plenty to choose from and finding one will save you many potential headaches. Having a landlord who is sympathetic to your pet ownership (or has pets themselves) will make your rental experience that much more enjoyable.

Finally, there are certain situations where landlords might have grounds for eviction, based on your pet ownership - if they are allergic, or your pet causes excessive noise, or undue damage to the unit or property, or is deemed inherently dangerous. These are generally considered worst-case scenarios, but it drives home the point that it is equally important that you find the right pet for your apartment as it is the right apartment for your pet. Do so, and you can look forward to years of happy, fuzzy companionship.