Pet rent and bans for California rental properties could disappear under new law

David González Image
Friday, February 23, 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.

Melissa Messmer and her 4-year-old dog, Snowflake, are inseparable.

"I've had him since he was four months old," Messmer said. "He means my life. He's my world."

In spite of his small size, it took a lot of work to get Snowflake to be allowed to move in into the apartment complex where Messmer rents.

"I needed to show a pet license for the city of Orange. I needed to show all his rabies vaccinations," she said. "Obviously, vaccinations up to date and then the pet fee."

Messmer's pet fee was $250 deposit, plus monthly pet rent.

She now supports a new California bill, AB 2216, that would prohibit hefty pet fees and blanket pet bans in rental units.

"I think that a lot of times people can't afford to live already as it is. It's so hard. The only thing is them being responsible for their pets. That's the only I would ask for," Messmer said.

San Francisco Assemblyman Matt Haney said 70% of California renters have pets but only 30% of available rentals accept them.

"Landlords, including brand new buildings, can just say no dogs, no cats, period. And that is making our housing crisis a lot worse," Haney said.

His bill will require landlords to have a reasonable excuse not to allow pets in a rental property.

"Whether it's a health or a safety or some stated reason, not just a blanket pet ban that is excluding the majority of renters from an opportunity to rent there."

In addition, landlords would only be allowed to ask about pet ownership after a tenant's application has been approved.

The California Apartment Association is concerned over the bill's impact on rental housing providers.

Debra Carlton, CAA's executive vice president of state government affairs said: "The bill does not allow for an increase in security deposits, potentially limiting landlords' ability to cover pet-related damages."

"We understand the need for pet-friendly housing but believe a more balanced approach is necessary. It's essential to find a middle ground that safeguards the investments of housing providers and ensures other tenants can enjoy a safe and peaceful environment," she said. "We have communicated to Assemblyman Haney that allowing owners to voluntarily accept pets if a higher security deposit is allowed would be a more reasonable approach."

However, Haney said landlords would have the right to require pet insurance to protect their properties.