Should the Los Angeles City Council Pressure Landlords to Allow Pets?

Renters frequently see “NO PETS” signs in plain sight, making it clear that their furry friends are not welcome. For years, renters have had to choose between giving up their pet pals and passing up the perfect home – an unpleasant decision in an era of a tightening rental market. But this may soon change, as the Los Angeles City Council hopes to open the doors for pets by enacting a motion encouraging landlords to accept pets in their leasing agreements. The idea is to give a break to pet-owning renters and send fewer cats and pups into the animal shelter system – but could this also cut into the inventory for non-pet-owning renters in an already tight market?  And should the city council be pressuring landlords and home owners this way – will it discourage prospective buyers from purchasing rental properties in LA?

According to the Los Angeles Animal Services page, landlords can have a competitive edge for allowing renters with pets, and in turn generate a large pool of applicants. A policy welcoming pets is a good approach to have when nearly 50% of renters in the U.S. have a furry friend.

To pet mavens in the City of Angels, it comes not a moment too soon. Almost two-thirds of the more than 2 million rental properties in Los Angeles prohibit domestic animals, according to the City Council motion. This is on the low side of big city pet love in the U.S. In Denver, for example, 98% of apartment complexes allow cats while 93% permit small dogs and 66% accept large dogs, according to the motion.

Los Angeles is known for having the nation’s highest percentage of renters; dismissing prospective renters with pets in a high volume city has raised concerns for crowded shelters. The City Council members recognize the growing need to eliminate the amount of animals in the shelter system. According to a 2009 American Humane Association survey, about 8 million animals end up in shelters every year. This is a result of pet owners moving into a new rental property with landlords prohibiting pets. Finding the perfect home to rent is difficult, especially with pet friendly rentals quickly going off the market.

According to Los Angeles Realtor, John A. Lucy, renters have been caught time and time again attempting to sneak pets in, until they are ultimately found by landlords. In turn, this leaves the rate at which pets are in shelters higher than average or drives renters on the hunt for yet another home.

“Some pet-friendly landlords will accept only cats or small dogs,” says Los Angeles Realtor Maria Norris of The Rental Girl. “They may change their dog-accepting ways once other tenants complain, or when the cuddly creature leaves a non-neighborly gift one too many times in common areas.”

Properties that allow pets are quickly rented; this makes it more difficult for Norris to find her client homes. They often end up paying more rent or leave behind dreams of a large kitchen or extra bedrooms. The ultimate goal of The City Council is to eliminate over crowded shelters and allow more renters to enjoy furry family members in their home.  Although there are no legal bindings for property-owners, the Los Angeles City Council has high hopes to change that in the near future.

Do you believe that this is a good change for landlords and renters across LA? If nearly 1.3 million rental homes are made pet friendly, could this drive up demand and cut into the available rental inventory?

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