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Why is it so hard for dog owners to rent in Halifax? 

Tough out there for a dog.

click to enlarge Ideal tenants, Jillian Mason and Denver. - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Ideal tenants, Jillian Mason and Denver.
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton

Meet Denver: An avid spooner, goofy and harmlessly affectionate. Denver has been involved with Jillian Mason for just under seven months. He wakes her in the morning with smothering kisses and waits for her at home after work. The bond couldn't be stronger between the two, but finding an apartment for the pair wasn't easy.

Denver is a dog, and not just any dog. He's a 70-pound brindle boxer/Amstaff mix.

Mason says she looked at thousands of apartments during the time she adopted Denver from the SPCA. Landlords would spark interest in her as a tenant, but when time came to introducing Denver into the equation, she was immediately cut off and refused.

"My heart would break when showing his picture to landlords and receiving the response, 'we don't allow pit bulls, they're fighting dogs,'" says Mason.

In Halifax, those plagued by a discouraging economy and affected by debt and salaries unfit to match the cost of living will often shepherd pets into their lives to relieve stress. Yet many young adults can't afford the decent dog-friendly apartments the city has to offer.

Joan Sinden runs the blog charlieloveshalifax.ca, which helps other dog owners find apartments. She says it's troubling that while we have a feline-friendly city, renting is a challenge for dog owners.

"I think it's difficult to rent with a dog because landlords don't have to make any accommodations for dog owners," she says, "and many are expensive buildings with weight restrictions, so it's no good if you're poor or have a big dog."

According to the Residential Tendencies Act, all property owners and landlords can have their own rules related to pets on the premises.

Other provinces are more renter-friendly, like in Ontario where, by law, landlords can't refuse potential tenants who own dogs and must allow pet owners to rent from them.

Lynne Snow of Homefinders Halifax says one of the main reasons landlords and property owners don't allows dogs is consistency in owner negligence leaving mess and destruction by the animal in their midst.

"In all honesty, apartment buildings are not the place for dogs and the few places that do allows dogs get abused," she says. "It's that simple."

Barring dogs, Snow adds, is easier for many landlords than having to continually carpet clean or replace floor mouldings and door casings.

Jillian Mason suggests developing a separate damage deposit for pet owners as a compromise. If the respect between landlord and tenant is mutual when it comes to renting, there shouldn't be a problem.

"Renting a pet friendly apartment should not be this difficult," she says. "Denver and I need each other, and I hope that landlords can become more considering and put trust in the young people of Halifax."

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July 27, 2017

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