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California Bill Saying Landlords Can’t Ban Pets Is Revamped to Exempt Small Landlords

California Bill Saying Landlords Can’t Ban Pets Is Revamped to Exempt Small Landlords

A pit bull at an animal shelter in Lancaster, Calif., on May 30, 2013. (AP/The Antelope Valley Press, Claudia Lopez)

Rudy Blalock
Rudy Blalock

5/31/2024

Updated: 6/2/2024

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Recent revisions to a California bill to outlaw blanket pet bans by property owners added protections for mom-and-pop landlords, or those with buildings where there are 15 units or fewer, before the bill cleared the Assembly floor.
According to the bill’s author, pet restrictions in California limit available housing but also contribute to pets being surrendered to shelters.
“A lack of pet-inclusive housing is one of the top reasons that pets are relinquished to animal shelters. Pet restrictions and exorbitant pet-related fees create barriers that make accessing housing even more out of reach for millions of Californians,” said Assemblyman Matt Haney, author of the bill, in a May 23 analysis.
Assembly Bill 2216 cleared the Assembly in a 46 to 9 vote and is now headed to the Senate with a fresh set of amendments, thanks to a push by the California Apartment Association.
Under the bill, landlords with buildings larger than 15 units would be barred from asking prospective tenants about their pets. Also, before entering into a rental agreement, tenants must give 72-hour notice if they plan to keep a pet, according to the analysis.
Recent amendments will allow landlords to collect pet deposits equal to 50 percent of one month’s rent, capped at $1,000, which are in addition to regular deposits. Landlords can also now limit the number of pets allowed to as few as one, according to a May 23 announcement by the apartment association.
Under the changes, breed restrictions are not allowed but landlords can require vaccinations, licensing, spaying or neutering, leashing, and cleanup policies.
Landlords also can charge a “pet rent” for two or more pets, with a $50 maximum charge for each pet beyond the first. Implementation of the bill was also changed to next April instead of January, with any rental agreements completed before exempt from the changes.
Mr. Haney’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment regarding the recent amendments.
Despite the amendments, some property owners still say the bill will create unnecessary barriers.
Daniel Yukelson, president of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, told The Epoch Times that Mr. Haney’s bill will increase costs for landlords, as did a bill last year by the lawmaker that restricted regular security deposits to just one month’s rent.
“The pet bill is a ‘one size fits all approach,’ however, most rental properties do not have space for dogs to relieve themselves and not all owners clean up after their pets,” Mr. Yukelson said in an emailed statement.
He said dogs can cause damage or, if crated while the owner is at work, “bark incessantly,” and cat urine can be extremely difficult to clean up.
One unintended consequence, he noted, is the bill could limit housing for renters allergic to animals or traumatized from dog bites.
California is also facing an insurance crisis as providers of property and casualty insurance continue to pause policies or exit the market after years of increased costs. Mr. Yukelson said dog bites from renters’ pets could result in insurers canceling policies for property owners.
“The pet bill is severely badly timed given today’s California insurance market,” he said.
He speculated that Mr. Haney’s latest bill is “just the beginning” as the lawmaker continues to propose housing bills that hurt property owners. He said he expects future amendments that would lower the unit exemption, allowable security deposits, and pet rent, among other protections that were pushed for.
“But why should Mr. Haney care? His requirements do not impact him, and he gets to feel good for putting a roof over the heads of pets despite inflicting huge costs and undue torment on rental housing providers,” he said.
According to Mr. Haney’s office, about 70 percent of California renters—an estimated 12 million people—own pets and have limited access to rentals.
An April announcement 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.
Also, the lack of pet-friendly housing has led to an estimated 829,000 renters secretly keeping a pet without the knowledge of their landlord, according to his office.
The Humane Society of the United States, the bill’s sponsor, also said in the recent bill analysis that AB 2216’s ban on breed restrictions will help animal shelters adopt out more dogs.
“This legislation will provide welcome relief by allowing pets and families to stay together, [reducing] the likelihood of pet surrenders and expanding opportunities for new pet adoptions,” officials wrote.
They said many dogs stuck at shelters weigh more than 30 pounds, which they said is a common restriction targeting larger breeds.
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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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