Beginning January 18, 2016, British Columbia landlords face stricter penalties for rejecting people with guide or service animals.
The new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act allows higher fines for denying access to rental properties, while at the same time requiring higher standards for certification of guide or service dogs.
The rules are similar to existing laws across the country, and landlords must be aware that a person who uses an assistance animal has the same rights as others. These rental applicants and tenants cannot be discriminated against, even if the landlord maintains a “no-pets” policy.
Under the new law, landlords who violate the rules could face fines up to $3,000. This makes British Columbia’s penalties among the highest in the country and in line with Alberta, according to a statement from the B.C. Ministry of Justice. Progressive enforcement will begin with information and education.
Residents cannot be denied a place to live based on having a certified guide or service dog. Strata boards and landlords with no-pets policies may not refuse residency to someone for having a certified guide or service dog.
According to Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton, these changes mean guide dogs and service dogs will be certified to the highest standard. This will help protect dog users and the public, and at the same time provide clarity for business owners regarding the responsibilities when it comes to providing access to dogs.
The new provisions also apply to retired dogs. Once the service animal can no longer perform due to age, illness or injury, it must be allowed to stay with its owner.
The Justice Institute of British Columbia will be responsible for certifying dogs that were not trained by an accredited school.
The new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act is a part of “Accessibility 2024”, the government’s 10-year action plan to make British Columbia the most progressive province in Canada for persons with disabilities.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.