On September 2, 2022, Governor Newsom signed SB 971 into law, therein adding new Section 50466 to the Health and Safety Code. The law guarantees tenant’s rights to own “one or more common household pets within the resident’s dwelling unit” to prevent discrimination against domesticated pet-owning tenants by landlords. It applies to landlords receiving subsidies from the California Department of Housing and Community Development or certain low-income housing tax credits. The legislature advises that the law was necessary because “[a] majority of Americans consider their pets to be family members and nearly three-fourths of renters have pets[.]” Applicable landlords cannot require pet rent, prohibit pet breeds, or have pet weight limits. Landlords can, however, require a pet deposit for potential damages.
Per the statue, the new law only applies to “common household pet[s]” defined as “domesticated animal, including, but not limited to, a dog or cat, that is commonly kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes.” Thus, it is likely to be broadly interpreted. The expressly allows “one or more common household pets” and does not provide clarification on just how many pets are allowed; however, it must assumable be on a objectively reasonable standards as Section 50466 also does not affect state laws or local ordinances relating to “public health, animal control, and animal anticruelty, or other statutes or laws that require reasonable accommodations to be made for an individual with a disability who maintains an animal to provide assistance, service, or support.”
Section 50466’s effective date is January 1, 2023. However, pets must be permitted for housing developments funded through the Zenovich-Moscone-Chacon Housing and Home Finance Act since January 1, 2018. Ultimately, approximately 352,000 households are expected to be impacted. The mechanism for enforcement are not mentioned; however, the Department of Housing and Community Development has a preexisting enforcement process that can begins with a complaint to ComplianceReview@hcd.ca.gov. The Department can also help landlords comply with this and other housing law provisions by emailing ComplianceReview@hcd.ca.gov, or the Burton Law Firm can also assure landlords are compliant with this law and several others unique to California.
For more information, please call 916-822-8700 or email email@example.com.