California Bill Could Ban Landlords From Asking Prospective Tenants About Pets

California Bill Could Ban Landlords From Asking Prospective Tenants About Pets

A man walks his dog past a “for sale” sign outside a single-family home in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2022. (Allison Dinner/Getty Images)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

2/22/2024

Updated: 2/22/2024

California landlords could be barred from asking prospective tenants about pets under a new bill that looks to expand rental options for pet owners.
Assemblyman Matt Haney introduced AB 2216 earlier this month, saying it would prohibit “blanket pet bans” in rental units in the state. Under the proposed law, landlords couldn’t ask about pets until after an application is approved, and they must provide “reasonable” explanations for prohibiting pets in their units, according to a Feb. 20 press release by the San Francisco Democrat.
Amid the state housing crisis, renters shouldn’t have additional barriers to finding housing, he said.
“The majority of renters in our state, pet owners, are denied access to the majority of rental units. That makes no sense at all and it’s dramatically exacerbating the housing crisis,” Mr. Haney said in the press release.
He added that about 70 percent of California renters—an estimated 12 million people—own pets and have limited access to rentals. The press release explained that in any given city, only 30 percent of rentals are pet-friendly, including cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, which have about 21 percent and 26 percent pet-friendly rentals on the market.
A stray cat sits in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on Aug. 16, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A stray cat sits in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on Aug. 16, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

According to the press release, the lack of pet-friendly housing has led to an estimated 829,000 renters secretly keeping a pet without the knowledge of their landlord. A survey of 240 shelters found that over 60,000 pets were surrendered by their owners because of issues finding housing, according to the press release, which didn’t say when the study was conducted.
One Sacramento resident, Andrea Amavisca, struggled for over a month to find a rental because of her small dog, she said in the recent announcement by Mr. Haney. She said she faced differing rental policies and expensive deposits, all making the rental process difficult for her and her partner.
“Landlords that initially liked our application would suddenly stop answering our calls once they found out we had a dog. Or others would require a pet deposit close to $1,000 that would put the unit totally out of our budget. Every rental had a different pet policy with fees that varied based on discretion. It felt unfair,” she said.
The bill is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. The group’s California director, Jenny Berg, said in the recent announcement that tenants are forced to choose between “keeping their pet or putting a roof over their head,” she said.
But some landlords say extra regulations could add burdensome costs to small property owners who already struggle to make ends meet. In California, owners already face caps on rent raises, eviction protections, and other state and city policies that have pushed small mom and pop landlords out of the market.
A pit bull plays in a park in Escondido, California on April 21, 2020. (Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images)

A pit bull plays in a park in Escondido, California on April 21, 2020. (Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, pets in rental units is not a ‘one size fits all’ issue,” Daniel Yukelson, executive director for the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. told California Insider in an emailed statement.
He said some landlords may have rules against pets because some of their residents are afraid, have been bitten, or are highly allergic to them. Obtaining liability insurance for some dog breeds can also pose a challenge, he said.
Also, pets can damage property, and with new laws limiting landlords to collecting no more than one month’s rent for security deposits, property owners would be left on the hook for the damages, he added.
“This would just be another cost that will slowly tip the scales against small owners, particularly those subject to draconian rent regulations, who continue to have more and more costs imposed on a revenue stream that is being strangled through regulations,” Mr. Yukelson said.
The bill was introduced Feb. 7 and has until March 9 to be heard in an Assembly committee.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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