Skip to content

Snakes sneaking into Burnaby renter's suite because owner won't pen them up

Residential Tenancy Branch deals with many snake complaints

“Snakes – I hate ‘em,” Indiana Jones

Same, Indy, same.

I thankfully don’t have to live with them, but some Burnaby residents aren’t so lucky.

Tim contacted me because he got the shock of his life when a snake slithered into the suite that he rents in a basement in Burnaby.

It turned out to be owned by one of the other tenant who rents in the same house.

“I am deathly afraid of snakes,” Tim said. “I was sitting on the couch when I could sense something going over my foot. I looked down and saw the snake. I felt like I was having a heart attack. I thought it had somehow gotten into the house from outside. I knocked on the doors of the other tenants and that’s when my neighbour admitted it was his. Turns out he’s got a bunch of them in his unit and he just lets them roam. The problem is the house is so old that there are holes everywhere and so the snake can escape. This wasn’t the first time. It’s happened again and he’s refusing to keep them in some sort of container. I don't know what to do, short of moving out.”

According to Section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law. In other words, they need to keep your pad pest-free or deal with pest issues as they arise. 

Tenants also bear a responsibility to uphold the cleanliness of their rental units, too. 

The RTA stipulates that a "tenant must maintain reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards throughout the rental unit." 

The BC Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) sees a range of complaints from landlords and tenants regarding cleanliness and pest issues — but it may surprise you how many of the files involve snakes. 

Here are just a few of the multiple decisions involving snake-related issues in past years in British Columbia.

Snakes galore: Over 100 snakes, dogs, rodents, and "other small animals" 

There are hoarders — and then there are snake hoarders. In this messy dispute (emphasis on messy), the landlord stated that the former tenant left bags of garbage in the rental unit that required a couple of trips to the landfill. Additionally, they said the tenant kept dogs, over 100 snakes, rodents, and other small animals on the premises. 

"The house reeked of urine, and there was [snakeskin], fur and dead flies left uncleaned by the tenant," reads the dispute.

The landlord added that they needed an exterminator to ensure they were no snakes slithering through the unit after the tenant left. 

Mystery snake? Those rats are food for the snake...but where is the snake?  

If you've ever walked into a room that had an aquarium with rats in it, you may have assumed they were pets. In this case, you could be wrong. The landlord claimed that the tenant told them that they were food for a snake. However, no snake was observed. Instead, the landlord observed the "strong odour of animals" — specifically rat urine and the smell of dogs. 

In response to the landlord's allegations, the tenant claimed she has one dog, one snake, and no rats. 

A variety of pets

The landlord in this dispute said the tenant had lizards, snakes, spiders, and fish "as pets" and that she bred mice, rats, tadpoles, and crickets to feed them. The tenant, however, claimed that she only had two fish tanks, one small snake, an iguana, and a bearded dragon.

The landlord stated that they never approved any of these pets and the RTB deemed the unit unrentable due to damage caused by the pets. 

  • With additional reporting by Elana Shepert, Vancouver is Awesome