Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does the plan to forbid discrimination against dogs also include cats? And does it include regulations on the practice of charging more monthly rent for having a dog/cat- in addition to the additional deposit? I understand the additional deposit (which should be regulated) but what do they need more monthly rent for?
Garrison Keillor proposed a public option for pet health care a while back, “People love their animals, and if we could just agree that everybody in America should receive the same level of care enjoyed by an elderly golden retriever, we could be done with this and get ready for the World Series.” Stumble Upon currently records 1,251 views of “Prohibited Pets.” People sure do get worked up about their animals.
To answer your first question, how could you exclude Mr. Mittens, here, from any proposal requiring pets? The answer is unequivocally no, any ordinance of this sort could not exclude cats. In fact under the rubric of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a companion animal can be almost anything. We’ve argued for and received reasonable accommodations for bunnies, birds, cats and, of course, dogs. I don’t know if I’d try it for a companion Komodo Dragon, but who knows? A call to PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support should get you a good set of guidelines.
That is one of the problems of an ordinance requiring landlords to accept pets. What sort of pets? The other issues that are being hotly debated are: How does a landlord accommodate existing tenants with allergies or phobias? Landlord liability? (Although I think liability is a red herring. Remember that the landlords were informed and did nothing in the Diane Whipple case.)
It is also interesting to note that landlord groups did not seem to be opposed to a disastrous proposal by the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare that landlords would be allowed to jack up rents 5% to accept pets. See Commission meeting minutes of January 11, 2007. And that several of the commissioners supporting the idea found themselves out of a job by the meeting on June 14, 2007. Hopefully that answers your other questions. To clarify, you’ll have pull the Rent Ordinance from my and many, many other tenant advocates’ cold, dead hands before we will allow illegal rent increases to buy rights for tenants.
The scuttlebutt I hear is that the Animal Control and Welfare Commission and a progressive supervisor originally supportive of the proposal may be backing away from the current proposal because, even in the tenant community, the issue is not so clear cut.
A compromise that is currently being discussed is an amendment to the Rent Ordinance based on West Hollywood’s revision to its Rent Stabilization Ordinance and creating exceptions to limits on pet ownership for seniors, disabled and persons living with HIV/AIDS. While many would argue that it doesn’t go far enough, especially in light of local landlords’ flip-flopping when there’s no dough in it for them, it would address some very real tenant constituency concerns.
Tell the Commission what you think: City Hall, Attn: Commission of Animal Control & Welfare, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 362, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 554-6074. Don’t forget to write your supervisor as well.
Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.