On June 6, 2022, the signing period ended for a Quebec Petition to ban no-pet clauses in residential leases. The Petition, which collected 33,158 signatures, asks the government of Quebec to make all clauses prohibiting animals in residential Leases null and without effect.
Time will tell whether the Quebec government takes any action on this issue, but regardless of the outcome, this movement raises some interesting questions for Landlords – namely, ban on no-pet clauses necessary? Is this a growing global trend? Is this a trend US Landlords should be aware of?
With these questions in mind, here’s an overview of where the issue currently stands in the United States and abroad.
The Arguments Surrounding Banning No-Pet Clauses
The Quebec Petition presented a well-reasoned argument for banning no-pet clauses. Here’s the gist of it:
- Pets are sentient beings that contribute to the quality of life of Quebec citizens.
- More than half of Quebec households have a dog or cat, but only a minority of Landlords allow pets.
- This disparity leads to problems and can force pet owners to give up their pets.
- This issue disproportionately impacts low-income individuals, who have fewer choices and too often are faced with deciding between affordable housing and surrendering their pets.
The petition makes some good points. That said, Landlords have compelling points on the topic too. Here are some of the most common reasons that Landlords ban pets from their property:
- Concerns over damage to the property, especially damage caused by chewing or scratching.
- Pets can have negative impacts on other Tenants or neighbors, including increased noise, aggressive behavior, and triggering allergic reactions.
- Pets can also lead to increased odors in buildings, whether from accidents or from not being kept clean.
- Pets can exacerbate pest problems, especially fleas.
No-Pet Clauses Allowed in the United States
The movement to ban no-pet clauses in Quebec is part of a larger movement in this direction. No-pet clauses are already banned in Ontario, Canada; Victoria, Australia; and throughout France. In addition, there have been efforts throughout the United Kingdom, including localized movements in Ireland and Wales, to ban no-pet clauses.
In the United States, there are no such bans and there don’t currently appear to be many organized efforts to ask for one. While Landlords have to allow service dogs and, in many circumstances, emotional-support animals, they are otherwise given autonomy as to whether or not to allow pets.
How Should Landlords Address Pets?
Interestingly, a recent study found that Tenants with pets don’t cause substantially more damage than Tenants without pets. The FIREPAW study reported that the average Tenant causes $323 in damage, and Tenants with pets caused an average of $362. This difference is likely covered in the pet deposit and doesn’t result in any extra expense for Landlords.
In addition, many of the Landlord’s concerns about pets can be addressed with a thorough pet policy. It’s also worth noting that allowing pets can give Landlords a competitive advantage by attracting more Tenants. Finally, the use of reasonable pet fees or pet deposits can ensure that any damage is covered and, in some cases, actually lead to increased revenue for Landlords.
While each property is different, here are some pet best practices for Landlords to keep in mind.
- Be clear with Applicants about your pet policy, communicate that policy to all new Tenants, and ensure that it’s clearly stated in the Lease Agreement. Better yet, include a Pet Addendum that outlines the policy in detail, including how the Landlord will deal with noise complaints, vaccination requirements, leash requirements, and dealing with pet waste.
- In your pet policy, include either a pet deposit or a pet fee to cover any additional damage caused by pets.
- Be consistent about enforcing the pet policy. If a Tenant violates the policy or has an undisclosed pet on the property, immediately address the issue.
- For additional peace of mind, consider extra screening for Tenants with pets. This can include talking with additional references, getting a Pet Reference Letter from prior Landlords, or requesting obedience school certifications.
The Pet Resources Landlords Need
As with many Landlord issues, the most important thing is being proactive. Landlords should thoroughly address pets and their pet policy in the Lease Agreement, have a plan for dealing with pet problems and be consistent about dealing with pet issues.
Emily Koelsch, ezLandlordForms Contributing Writer
Emily Koelsch is a freelance writer and blogger, who primarily writes about business, real estate, and technology.
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