California Bill Would Block Landlords from Banning Pets In Rentals

California Bill Would Block Landlords from Banning Pets

The bill, AB 2216, would prohibit banning pets in rentals and allow landlords to ask about pet ownership only after a tenant’s application has been approved, according to reports.

According to its author, Democratic Assembly member Matt Haney, the bill may be the first-in-the-nation law to require landlords to accept pets.

Haney said the intention is to bar property owners from asking about pets on applications, prohibit additional monthly fees for pet owners — or “pet rent” — and limit pet deposits. Haney says isn’t trying to force landlords to accept all pets. Instead, he said his bill will make it easier for pet owners to find an apartment by easing some of the restrictions they face.

The legislation, which is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, is aimed at solving a big problem Haney said he sees in the rental world: an overabundance of tenants with pets and a shortage of landlords willing to accept them.

“A two-tiered system that punishes people for having pets, or treats them differently, or has a greater burden on them just for that fact, should not be allowed in the law,” Haney told KQED. “What we see too often is just these blanket prohibitions of pets with no good reason for it, with no required justification for it and no protection of pet owners, who represent the majority of California’s renters, to be able to access housing just like anyone else,” Haney said.

“We never intended to say that landlords can place no restrictions at all,” Haney told POLITICO. “Nobody is going to be forced to take dangerous dogs … of course there’s going to be cases where restrictions make sense.”

Haney’s staff analyzed Zillow apartment listings and found that 20% of San Francisco apartments allowed cats and dogs of all sizes, while 18% of those in Sacramento and 26% in Los Angeles did. Survey research finds that two in three households nationwide own pets, and 72% of renters report that pet-friendly housing is hard to find.

Property owners, however, are already expressing concerns about the proposal. Krista Gulbransen, executive director of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, said her opposition comes down to risk: Pets have the potential to damage property, she said, and limiting owners’ discretion to take on that added risk while stripping them of the pet-deposit safeguard puts them in a terrible position.

“The biggest concern is just not being able to make that determination of risk and make a decision based on that,” Gulbransen said.

“There’s downsides every single time the Legislature does something, then they blame us because rents are going up,” Debra Carlton, executive vice president of state government affairs for the California Apartment Association told Politico. “It’s hard to get stuff built, and then they just regulate us.”

Politico said to be sure, Carlton still isn’t thrilled with all of the provisions of the scaled-back version, either. Not charging monthly for pets means landlords will just raise everyone’s rent to cover potential damages, especially if they can’t hike security deposits without running up against the cap on deposits that a different Haney bill last year instituted.

“Legislators are famous for doing the hard, hard, furthest thing from what they meant to do so that they force us to negotiate and they give us something we might not have wanted anyway,” said Carlton.

California doesn’t really want to make landlords accept pets

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