During a tenancy, the tenant must follow the rules set out in the tenancy agreement about pets. A landlord can restrict the size, kind and number of pets and can make other reasonable pet-related rules that the tenant must follow.

Tenants must first check their tenancy agreement before getting a pet. If pets are allowed, the landlord will need to schedule a unit inspection. If pets are not allowed, the landlord and the tenant must decide whether allowing pets can be negotiated.

These rules do not apply to guide and service dogs.

Changing a Tenancy Agreement

Before getting a pet, tenants need to decide with their landlord whether the pet clause of their tenancy agreement needs to be negotiated or changed. Any changes made must be recorded in the agreement – either in a separate written agreement attached to the original or a handwritten note with both parties’ initials on the original tenancy agreement.

If a tenant can prove the landlord verbally agreed to the pet, the landlord may not be able to enforce restrictions on pets or claim that the tenant has breached the terms restricting pets. To start enforcing the pet restrictions, the landlord should give notice that the terms will be enforced and provide a reasonable period for the tenant to comply.

Getting a New Pet Without Written Permission

If the tenancy agreement says that pets aren’t allowed and the tenant gets a pet, two things could happen:

  1. The landlord may give the tenant a “breach letter” that explains how the agreement has been broken, how much time is allowed to remove the pet and what will happen if the pet is not removed (e.g. eviction)
  2. The landlord and tenant may agree to change this term and record it in the agreement

Even if a tenant is allowed to get a pet, the tenancy agreement can include restrictions on the size, kind, and number of pets allowed.

Basically, the outcome in this type of situation depends on whether the pet restriction in the tenancy agreement is either a:

  • Material term: A term considered so important that the smallest breach of it gives the other party the right to end the agreement
  • Ordinary term: A term that’s not as important, but it must still be followed

If an ordinary term of a tenancy agreement says a tenant can’t have pets, the landlord can apply for dispute resolution and ask for an order that the tenant comply with the tenancy agreement. If the tenant fails to comply with the order, the landlord can serve a notice to end the tenancy.

Pet Damage Deposits

A landlord may ask for a pet damage deposit during a residential tenancy if a tenant gets a pet for the first time with their permission – pet damage deposits are not required for manufactured home park tenancies.

The landlord and tenant should inspect the condition of the rental unit before the pet damage deposit is paid and the tenant gets a new pet. During the inspection, both parties should complete a Condition Inspection Report (PDF, 1.6MB). The report may be submitted as evidence if there is ever a dispute about the rental unit’s condition.

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The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: September 23, 2021..

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch