New CA bill would make housing more accessible for renters with pets

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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Proposed CA bill would require landlords to allow pets
A new California bill would require landlords to allow pets in rental units and provide a reasonable excuse not to.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Renters with pets face challenges finding landlords who will rent to them at all, let alone without extra costs, but a new state bill seeks to change that.

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Assembly Bill 2216, introduced Tuesday by Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, would prohibit landlords from having blanket policies against renting to pet owners.

It would also prohibit landlords from asking about a renter's pets until after their application was approved. But the bill would allow landlords to prohibit pets for "reasonable reasons."

Only about 30% of rental units statewide allow pets, according to Haney's office. In San Francisco, only about 21% of available rental units allow pets.

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Haney said in a statement that the state's goal of building more housing to alleviate a housing crisis would be fruitless if millions of people were restricted from being tenants because of their pets.

"Like it or not humans have pets, they always have and they always will," said Haney. "Blanket no companion pet policies are causing landlords to miss out on good tenants who get rejected without even getting a chance to apply for a place to live. The current system is bad for everyone."

The bill is sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States. Jenny Berg, California State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement that people with pets still have a right to housing.

"Along with millions of pet owners across California, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) firmly believes that household pets are an integral part of our families. Housing is a fundamental right that should not be limited because tenants are forced to choose between keeping their pet or putting a roof over their head," Berg said.

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But the bill raised several concerns for the California Apartment Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization for rental property owners.

Debra Carlton, CAA's executive vice president of state government affairs, said the bill was well-intentioned, but could raise problems for landlords and their tenants and pets alike. Carlton said the bill does not take into account issues like housing that doesn't have a backyard, or cohabitating tenants with allergies or space constraints.

She also said the risk of bearing costs from pets should not fall entirely on landlords.

"The bill does not allow for an increase in security deposits, potentially limiting landlords' ability to cover pet-related damages," Carlton said.

She said the issue would be more acute given the passage of AB 12, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2023 and limits security deposits to one month's rent, rather than two.

The bill is expected to be taken up in March after it is assigned to a committee, according to Carlton.