SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NEWSnet/AP) — A proposed law in California might make it easier for those with pets to find rental housing by limiting ‘no pets’ policies, along with restricting additional rent or move-in deposits for pet owners.

Backers of the bill, which recently cleared a key committee, say the lack of pet-friendly units is pushing renters to forgo housing or attempt to hand over family pets to overcrowded shelters.

They say the legislation also would allow more tenants with currently unapproved pets to acknowledge the cats and dogs that are in their homes.

But landlords are pushing back, saying they’re worried over the cost of repairs, liability over potential dog bites and nuisance issues that might drive away other tenants. They also want state lawmakers to allow higher security deposits — which legislators limited to one month’s rent last year — to scrub out possible urine and feces stains in carpets or repair damage to wood floors.

“There are bad people and there are bad dogs, and our job is to screen that and make sure that we’re providing a safe environment for everyone,” said Russell Lowery, executive director of the California Rental Housing Association.

The bill is headed to the Assembly for a floor vote. If it passes, it would go to the Senate for consideration. If approved, the rules would apply to new leases starting on or after Jan. 1.

The proposal authored by Assemblymember Matt Haney, a San Francisco Democrat and chair of the renters’ caucus, would require landlords to provide reasonable justifications, such as public health, for denying a pet.

A landlord could not ask about pets until after approving an applicant, and applicants would have to notify the landlord that they have a pet or plan to get one at least three days prior to signing a lease. Should the landlord deny the pet, the applicant could then decide whether to seek housing elsewhere.

The landlord also could not require additional rent or security deposit for a pet.

Ann Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Services, says the number of people giving up their pets has soared since the city of Oakland's eviction moratorium ended last summer. In 2022, the shelter averaged nearly 240 dogs relinquished each month; now it is 350 a month.

“We’re seeing a huge spike in people who are saying they are newly homeless," she said. “Or they’re choosing between being housed or being able to keep their pets.”

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