Montreal advocates are pushing for affordable housing that accepts service animals

Tobias Gural, 32, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is awaiting autism screening, relies on his five-year-old collie, Winston, as a service dog to aid him during panic attacks. When Gurl feels overwhelmed in crowded situations, Winston has been trained to provide assistance through behaviors such as a gentle nudge or creating personal space.

Gurl, along with her roommate CJ James, who also has a service dog, faces the challenge of finding an affordable apartment in Montreal that accepts animals. While landlords are not legally allowed to reject service dogs, Gurl and James claim they have been rejected many times by landlords who cite the dogs as the reason for the refusal. In other instances, he suspects that the dogs were quietly responsible for his application rejection.

According to a report in, hours have been spent searching for habitats that can accept their animals. Despite their efforts, Gurl and James continue to face disappointment. However, their hopes have risen with a bill in the Quebec Legislature that aims to invalidate no-pet clauses and ban them in future leases.

Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA, highlights the emotional toll faced by pet owners who are forced to surrender their beloved animals due to housing limitations. Gaillard emphasizes that the current situation has resulted in heartbreak for responsible pet owners who are unable to find suitable housing.

The issue lies in the discrepancy between the significant number of pet owners in Quebec and the limited number of landlords willing to keep animals. While 52 per cent of Quebec households have a cat or dog, a 2019 survey by a major landlord group revealed that more than 66 per cent of owners refuse to allow pets in their properties.

While advocates such as Gaillard and the Montreal SPCA have long advocated for a ban on the no-pets clause, some landlords express concern about potential damage or complaints from other tenants regarding noise or allergies. Martin Messier, president of the Association des Proprietaires du Quebec, suggests that landlords should be provided with incentives rather than coercion to accept pets. One suggestion includes allowing landlords to collect damage amounts from pet owners, which is currently prohibited.

Philip Desmarais, a community organizer with the housing advocacy group POPIR, argues that the no-pet clause simply adds unnecessary complexity for renters searching for affordable units in a limited rental market. He emphasizes that the challenge becomes even greater as Quebec grows day by day, as low vacancy rates and rising rents create additional barriers for individuals and families seeking housing.

Gurl and James, facing a rent increase when their current lease expires, are determined to find a new place that can accommodate their service animals. She has also resorted to writing resumes for her two dogs and has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec against a landlord who refused to rent to them. Additionally, Gurl advocates for a bill restricting the no-pet clause through Winston Instagram account, hoping for a positive outcome in their housing search.

As Montreal grapples with a housing crisis, advocates are committed to ensuring that individuals with service animals have access to affordable housing. By overturning no-pet provisions and creating more inclusive housing policies, they aim to create a better living environment for pet owners and their beloved companions.



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