A New Bill Could Require California Landlords to Allow Pets · The Wildest

Skip to main content

A New Bill Could Require California Landlords to Allow Pets

The legislation would broaden the housing possibilities of millions of Californians.

by Sio Hornbuckle
February 23, 2024
Pretty young woman relaxed at home.
Marco Govel / Stocksy
The letter "W" from the Wildest logo

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Sign up for product updates, offers, and learn more about The Wildest, and other Mars Petcare brands. Must be over 16 years to sign up. See our privacy statement to find out how we collect and use your data, to contact us with privacy questions or to exercise your personal data rights.

Pet parents know how tricky the housing hunt can be. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect spot, you read the fine print — and see the dreaded “No pets allowed.”  Moving in without your favorite roommate isn’t an option, and they can’t afford their own studio…So you’re back at square one. But for Californians, there’s some good news: A newly proposed bill could prohibit landlords from forbidding pets. 

Promising new legislation

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Matt Haney, would put an end to pet restrictions. “I’ve heard from many constituents about the incredible hurdles and challenges they faced in finding homes simply because they own pets,” Haney told the . “They’ve been repeatedly denied because they have a dog — even if their dog is an emotional support animal — and they need accommodations.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), 72 percent of renters are pet parents. In California, three million pet parents live in Los Angeles County. But when Hanley’s staff searched Zillow listings for apartments posted over the course of a week, they found that only 26 percent of apartments in LA were pet-friendly. “I’m a huge supporter of building access to housing, and this is a housing issue,” Haney told the LA Times

The bill is currently focused on domesticated companion animals, including dogs and cats. It does not apply to animals kept for a commercial purpose. The legislation is still in the early stages; the LA Times reports that it may be scheduled for a hearing on March 9.

Opponents of the bill cite concerns including the drawbacks of high-density housing for dogs without backyards, as well as potential allergy issues. Debra Carlton, executive vice president of the State Government Affairs California Apartment Association, suggests that a higher security deposit for pet parents may be a workable middle ground. “We understand the need for pet-friendly housing but believe a more balanced approach is necessary,” she said in a statement

How this bill could help Californians

Pet restrictions aren’t just annoying; they can be seriously prohibitive and sometimes discriminatory. “Animal policies significantly affect people with disabilities who need assistance animals in order to accommodate disability related needs,” Julia Howard-Gibbon, supervising attorney at Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (FHANC), tells The Wildest. She adds that tenants can request accommodations on the basis of their disability, but that isn’t always straightforward. “Unless they come to [our office], tenants often don’t even know this is an option. And even when they do, landlords often push back on these requests or deliberately make it difficult for tenants to access the accommodations they need,” she says. 

In fact, FHANC launched an investigation in 2021 to determine whether or not landlords were granting accommodations. They had testers call 111 properties and, posing as potential tenants, inquire about whether an apartment’s “no pets” policy could be adjusted for a necessary assistance animal. The majority of landlords said no; ultimately, they found evidence of discrimination at 55 percent of the properties. “This shows that even though the law currently requires landlords to make exceptions to no pet policies for assistance animals, many landlords are not complying with that law, demonstrating a need for the proposed bill,” Howard-Gibbon says. 

In addition to impacting individuals with disabilities, pet restrictions open the door to breed-specific policies, which unfairly target Pit Bull type dogs due to harmful and disproven stereotypes. Breed-specific apartment restrictions can keep people from adopting Pit Bulls out of fear that they will lose access to housing options. 

Plus, and most obviously, finding housing is hard for anyone. Doing away with “no pet” policies could simplify the process for millions of Californians and massively broaden their housing possibilities. In a statement on the bill, Jenny Berg, the California state director of the Humane Society of the United States, explained that the 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.”

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

Related articles