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New Bill Stops Landlords from Denying Housing to Tenants with Pets

AB 2216 requires landlords to have reasonable reasons for denying pet owning tenants housing.

For immediate release:
  • Nate Allbee
  • (415) 756-0561

SACRAMENTO – The chair of the California Legislative Renters Caucus, Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) has introduced legislation that prohibits blanket pet bans in rental units in California. AB 2216 will require landlords to have reasonable reason(s) for not allowing a pet in a rental unit and only allows landlords to ask about pet ownership after a tenant’s application has been approved.

California has the second highest number of tenants in the country, with 17 million families and individuals renting — close to 12 million, or 70% of these renters are pet owners. Unfortunately only under current law only 30% of available rentals in any given city are pet friendly. In San Francisco only 21% of the available rentals currently on the market allow for pets. Similarly, despite having close to 3 million pet owning renters, only 26% of Los Angeles rentals allow for pets.

“One of our main strategies to address the housing crisis has been building more housing,” said Assemblymember Haney. “We have to keep building housing, and much faster, but we won’t be able to solve this crisis if 12 million people across the state are being denied access to that housing because they have a companion pet.  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.” 

The lack of pet friendly housing is causing more than 829,000 tenants to have pets in their units without the knowledge of their landlord. This leaves landlords without adequate coverage for potential damages that could be mitigated if they knew their tenants had a pet such as pet insurance, or reasonable pet restrictions. 

“My partner and I searched for over a month for a 2 bedroom rental unit that would allow for my small cattle dog mix,” said Andrea Amavisca, a Sacramento resident.

“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.”

“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.”

“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,” said Jenny Berg, California State Director of the Humane Society of the United States. “As we’ve shown through our prior legislative efforts, HSUS supports removing barriers to accessing housing, like unnecessary and unwarranted pet restrictions, and are proud to sponsor AB 2216 with Assemblymember Haney.” 

Many tenants are being forced to surrender their pets to already overrun shelters that don’t have adequate resources to take care of more animals. A survey of 240 California based shelters revealed that 67,881 pets were surrendered by their owners, with the leading cause being a lack of access to pet friendly housing.