Pet Legislation: How Operators Can Meet These Challenges Proactively

By Judy Bellack, Industry Principal, The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative

We recently published a blog titled “Embracing the Future: Why Rental Housing Operators Must Stay Informed of Legislative Trends Toward Dog Ownership.” With sweeping legislative proposals introduced recently in both California and Arizona, it seems like a good time for a reminder as well as some proactive steps.

Recent proposed pet legislation

Current language in the proposed Arizona SB 1439 states that “if a landlord allows a tenant to house a dog in or on the tenant’s premises, the landlord may not prohibit specific breeds or types of dogs.” 

Similar legislation introduced in California, AB 2216, would require property owners to accept all common household pets, and would prohibit owners from asking about pets on applications and limit their ability to charge fees or deposits for pets.

What does this mean?

As we stated in our previous blog, legislative bodies across the country have been reevaluating their approach to pet policies in housing and insurance – due largely to the continuing rise in pet ownership as well as shifting attitudes of pet owners who think of their pets as members of the family.

The fact that there are currently more than 20 states with similar proposed or passed legislation should serve as a strong indicator that elected officials are taking note of restrictive housing and insurance policies and seeking to create needed change to advocate for their pet-owning constituents.

What can rental housing providers do?

With the pet-inclusive movement gaining momentum and more legislative changes on the horizon, rental housing operators would be wise to proactively modify their restrictive pet policies. Housing providers not only can attract a broader pool of prospective residents, but also foster a more inclusive and compassionate living environment.

Embracing pet-inclusive initiatives leads to increased satisfaction and retention, as well as a positive reputation in the market. A useful tool to assess your current level of pet-inclusivity is the Pet-Inclusive Scorecard, which takes only a few minutes and may reveal areas for improvement.

It’s important to note that proposed legislation does not prohibit an operator’s ability to remove a pet that has demonstrated aggression or has a history of aggressive behavior.

Toward that end, perhaps a more meaningful alternative to breed or size restrictions (and experts agree that breed is a poor predictor of behavior) is to implement a screening tool for pets such as the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative’s Pet Personality Profile, which helps assess individual dog behavior to identify any history of aggressive behavior that may preclude acceptance of a specific dog.

By recognizing the importance of pets in people’s lives, rental housing operators can position themselves as forward-thinking and empathetic providers, ultimately ensuring long-term success in an evolving rental landscape. 

Many savvy rental housing operators are already ahead of the curve in easing or eliminating breed and size restrictions, including MAA, Milhaus, TMG, Paradigm, MC Companies, RPM and J.C. Hart among others.

To view recent case studies from industry operators who have lifted restrictions, as well as helpful information on why and how your company can move in this direction, visit the Pet Inclusive Housing Initiative website.