A bill to make more rental properties pet-friendly would end ‘ban dogs,’ lawmakers say

Democratic Assemblymember Matt Haney speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento, California, on Monday, July 10, 2023.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

A bill to make more rental properties pet-friendly would end ‘ban dogs,’ lawmakers say

Animals and pets, politics in California

Andreas J Campa

February 22, 2024

All dogs can go to heaven, but the Californian landlord

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are not so accommodating.

Pet owners may have a harder time finding apartments due to the glut of landlords that don’t allow dogs

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, cats or other animals in their buildings. However, a new bill aims to open more apartments to tenants with pets.

The legislation would essentially only allow landlords to ask questions about pet ownership after a tenant’s application has been approved, said Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), author of the bill.

Haney’s proposal would end the blanket ban on specific pets, he said, adding that the measure would help ease California’s housing crisis.

Haney introduced Assembly Bill 2216 earlier this month, which he said in a

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release requires landlords to have reasonable cause[s] for not allowing a pet in a rental unit.

I’ve heard from many voters about the incredible hurdles and challenges they’ve faced finding a home simply because they have pets, Haney told The Times on Wednesday. They have been repeatedly turned away because they have a dog, even though their dog is an emotional support animal and they need shelter.

Haney said he was inspired by a British bill introduced in Parliament in May that would make pet ownership “an implied term of an assured tenancy” unless “the landlord reasonably refuses.”

Haney said landlords’ restrictions on pets are crippling for the majority of renters in California.

He noted that nearly 70% of the state’s 17 million rental families are pet owners, and of those, nearly 3 million live in Los Angeles County.

Pet ownership statistics vary.

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. said that in 2020, 45% of all U.S. households owned dogs and 26% owned cats. Of these, 39% of all tenants preferred dogs and 29% preferred cats.

A widely cited 2014 Apartments.com survey found that 72% of renters own pets. The Humane Society also lists 72% of renters as pet owners.

What is indisputable, Haney said, is the low number of rental properties in California that say they are pet-friendly. Over the course of a week, his staff identified daily listings on real estate website Zillow showing that 21% of available rental properties in San Francisco allowed pets, and 26% in Los Angeles.

“California pet owners make up more than two-thirds of renters, and they are locked out of housing, Haney said. “I am a big believer in access to housing, and this is a housing issue.

Andrea Amavisca, a senior advocate at the California Immigration Policy Center, said she and her partner spent more than a month looking for a two-bedroom rental in Sacramento that allowed their small mixed-breed dog.

Landlords who initially liked our request suddenly stopped answering our calls once they found out we had a dog, Amavisca said in a statement. Or others would require a pet deposit of almost $1,000, which would put the unit completely out of our budget.

Amavisca said it was unfair that almost every landlord had a different pet policy with fees varying based on discretion, meaning they could charge whatever they wanted. Some charged as little as $20 a month, while others asked for it

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$100 and some wanted a four figure cleaning deposit.

Haney’s bill does not address fees, and the legislation would not prevent landlords from excluding certain types of pets.

We’re not saying every landlord should accept every animal, Haney said.

Haney’s bill defines a common pet as “a domesticated animal, including a dog or cat, that is generally kept in the home for pleasure and not for commercial purposes.”

Asked whether boa constrictors, lizards, fish or other legally acquired pets met the definition, Haney said the bill was aimed at companion animals such as dogs or cats.

Calls and emails to the California Apartment Assn. and the Apartment Assn. from California Southern Cities requesting comment on this bill were not returned.

California Oaks Property Management, which manages residential and commercial properties in Ventura County, listed a series of drawbacks related to pet ownership in a 2023 notice to landlords, including property damage, noise complaints and liability issues resulting from possible animal attacks.

California Oaks recommended that landlords charge an additional deposit of $250 to $500, depending on the breed.

Haney said he expected some pushback from landlords.

“I understand that some will be concerned about the potential of taking on tenants with pets that cause harm in ways they want to avoid,” he said. Be open to dialogue.

Haney said his bill would also help bring about 829,000 renters who hide pets from landlords into the sun.

The bill is still in its early stages and has yet to be referred to a House committee, according to state legislative documents, although it may come up for a hearing on March 9.

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