Québec Solidaire (QS) is urging the provincial government to follow in the footsteps of France and Ontario and amend its civil code to include a ban on no-pet clauses in leases for residential rental properties.
The party has committed to introducing a bill to this effect by the end of the legislative session.
QS sought the same ban last June, backing up the attempt with a petition that garnered more than 33,000 signatures.
On Thursday, QS co-spokesperson Manon Massé argued that, for a large number of Quebecers, a pet is essential to their well-being and overall health.
“Humans love their dogs and cats because they make them feel good,” she said. “Many studies have shown that pets have a positive impact on mental health.”
Massé’s colleague, Andrés Fontecilla, the MNA for Laurier-Dorion, said it’s a form of discrimination to refuse to rent to pet owners, for whom an animal is often part of their family.
“Landlords have the right to have an animal, but not their tenants,” he said. “Why?”
Speaking to reporters Thursday, SPCA Montreal executive director Sophie Gaillard said no-pet clauses lead to a very large number of animals being abandoned during the lease renewal period, which begins in March.
“We are about to witness, as we do every year, heartbreaking scenes where responsible pet guardians, who love and care for their pets, are forced to abandon them in a shelter because they cannot keep them in their home,” she said.
According to Gaillard, the moves are responsible for the equivalent of an abandoned animal per day at the Montreal SPCA alone, and are the main reason why people abandon their pets in Quebec.
“Between losing your pet or your roof, there is no choice,” says Fontecilla. “We believe in a simple, pragmatic solution at zero cost to the state that would allow tenants to keep their pets, reduce the number of pet abandonments and have a positive impact on the mental health of thousands of tenants.”
Quebec landlord’s associations oppose idea
QS MNAs noted that France and Ontario passed legislation to ban no-pet clauses in the 1970s and 1990s.
However, the association of property owners, the Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) said it was surprised by Massé’s comments, citing the shortage of affordable housing.
Spokesperson Marc-André Plante criticized QS for deciding to “prioritize the legislative issue of animals” rather than the availability of affordable housing.
He said that 65 per cent of current landlords accept, with certain restrictions, the presence of animals.
“CORPIQ is against systematically imposing the right of animals in homes because there are some tenants who are inconvenienced by animals and they also have rights,” Plante said.
He said he fears negative effects of such a bill, which could, among other things, place landlords in the delicate position of arbitrating conflicts between tenants over the presence of an animal.
“What Québec Solidaire is advocating for is to impose, in the 1.5 million dwellings in Quebec, the right to an animal without regard for providing an ideal environment, both for animals and for all tenants,” he said.
There are some tenants who are inconvenienced by animals and they also have rights.– Marc-André Plante, CORPIQ spokesperson
Another owners’ group, the Association des propriétaires du Québec (APQ) had similar reasons for opposing the idea, saying it would be “unjust and inappropriate to impose such a decision that has important financial consequences on tenants and landlords.”
APQ president Martin Messier said QS’s argument is also flawed because in France and Ontario, a security deposit is allowed, unlike in Quebec.
“Should we silence people who are afraid to live in a building with animals? Or even people who are allergic to animals?” he said.
The association said that problems related to the presence of animals in housing are often the fault of their owners, who leave them on their own, don’t clean up after them in common areas or are negligent.
It said the proposed bill does little to address these issues.