Pet owners say discriminating landlords distorting vacancy rates

Erika Lagyjanszki is about to make the move from Toronto to Calgary to start her business as a wedding photographer and a new life with her boyfriend.

Looking for a place should have been a breeze for the two given the uptick in vacancy rates in Calgary as of late.

In fact, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), in the Calgary CMA, the overall apartment vacancy rate increased year-over-year from 1.4 per cent in April 2014 to 3.2 per cent in April 2015.

“The increase in the vacancy rate was a result of the universe of rental apartments in Calgary rising at a faster pace than demand for rental units,” said Christina Butchart, principal market analyst with CMHC.

“In-migration to the city was lower over the past year, easing growth in the demand for rental apartments. At the same time, the number of rental apartments in the Calgary CMA increased, as almost 900 apartments were added to the rental universe.”

However, despite the variety of living accommodations available, Lagyjanszki found it difficult to find a landlord who would accept her other roommate – a two-year-old husky/collie cross Bailey.

“The landlords at a lot of the places my boyfriend and I looked at said no pets were allowed at all,” she said. “And the ones that did allow pets wanted an extra $500 non-refundable deposit.

Knowing Bailey, paying an extra $500 is unnecessary. She’s not destructive.

“It’s already expensive enough because you have to put down first and last month’s rent.”

A request for an additional pet deposit is not unheard of, said Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association. Given the issue of pets is not included in the Residential Tenancies Act, the decision to allow pets is often a contractual agreement between the landlord and the tenant.

“Because it’s a contractual issue between landlords and tenants, it can vary from landlord to landlord,” said Baxter. “There’s no guideline or standard.”

Baxter said many landlords refuse to rent to people with pets because of the damage the animal can incur on their properties. This can include a ban on all pets, not just traditional companions like cats and dogs.

“I knew a landlord who rented to someone who had a pet ghekko that was fed live crickets,” said Baxter. “The crickets escaped and the building had an infestation. It costs thousands of dollars to bring an exterminator in and clean the building.”

While Baxter acknowledges the majority of pet owners are responsible people, it’s the irresponsible ones that make it hard for landlords to trust them.

“We all know there are people who bring in pets and allow them to run the house,” he said. “It’s evident when you go through those houses and the mess you see. We’ve seen basements full of dog excrement and backyards that are destroyed because the owners didn’t clean up after their pet.

“It’s because of these irresponsible pet owners why many landlords won’t allow it. The sad part about this is it makes it really hard for the majority of people who are responsible.”

One of those people being Lagyjanszki.

While her boyfriend is already settled in Calgary, Lagyjanszki is hoping to join him in October. Only thing? The place he is living in now doesn’t allow pets.
Lagyjanszki is hoping a talk with the landlord might convince them to change their mind and policy about pets. If not, she says they’ll have to look for a new place.

“The only option would be to break the lease and try and get a pet-friendly place,” she says. “Giving away the dog is not an option. She’s a part of our family.”


  1. I have to disagree with some of the information given in this article about the rentals and why the availability rate increased. Yes it may have increased 1.4 per cent in April 2014 to 3.2 per cent in April 2015 and the key reason for that is that most of the people who had been displaced by the flood of June 2013 were now able to return to their homes. This opened up more available units and not necessarily that there were more units being built. Because of the flood of 2013 many landlords across the city increased their rent to capitalize on the HUGE demand for places to rent and with that also came the restriction on pets. My brother was one of those that almost had to give up his dogs just to be able to find a place to live.

  2. I think this should be classified as descrimination. I have a well behaved dog that never barks and has never destroyed anything in her life, but I can’t find a nice place to live due to pet restrictions. I have to settle for sub par living conditions because the only places that will let a full sized dog occupy the premises are run down in my opinion. I am a responsible tenant and a neat freak. My place is constantly kept in order and I even go above and beyond to fix things around the house that need attention since I am good with my hands. I also think that it should be classified as descrimination to not rent to smokers. As a long time smoker, I only smoke outside and make sure the cigarette butt are disposed of properly. Another thing that upsets me extremely is the ads posted saying “Asian only” or “Indian Only”. All of these things should be illegal in my opinion. If I was to put an ad up for housing that said “Whites only” I’d be thrown in jail. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  3. Hey Joshua, good points and a good message. The only problem is that while you seem like a good and responsible person, there are so many people out there that have zero respect for other people’s property or their money. People smoke inside, people don’t look after their pets and people have no regard for others. It’s unfortunate because it ruins things for the good hearted people that actually have respect and consideration. The flip side though, is with so many rental units and so little people looking, eventually landlords will likely end up lowering their prices, allowing pets, and being less picky overall. Supply and demand unfortunately, people can’t just keep things at the same price and leave as is. People are capitalizing on shitty situation and on the “demand” of other places and screwing people out of their money. Cost of living keeps going up and people are losing their jobs.

  4. trying to find a place in calgary was and is ridiculous. I have 2 children toddler and baby. No pets but might as well have been for the amount of adult only buildings. I understand the noise children make and damage done is not a risk many people are willing to take but it should not be that huge an issue finding a place. A year later found one… A year. I was extremely happy I didn’t have a dog despite how much we wanted one, I refused. And will refuse untill I own my own place and stop having people telling me what type of pet I can have or age of child I am allowed to have in that building. I came across so many ads stating only one specific race (rasist Much?), only SINGLE females, adult only, no pets, only cats or small dogs. Realize it’s the landlords choice, they are taking the risk renting to a stranger, it is well with in their right to choose who lives there. Although race only seems a little to flipping far in my opinion. That and when they tell you what you can and can’t cook or how many people can visit at a time (one said no guests allowed with out 48 hr notice and permission from landlord)


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