Ohio Lawmakers Unite to Incentivize Pet-Friendly Rentals

In Ohio, where housing affordability is a growing concern, two lawmakers have come together to propose a groundbreaking bill aimed at addressing a significant cost for many renters – their beloved pets.

House Bill 277, known as the Pet Friendly Rental Act, introduces a tax credit system that rewards landlords for allowing companion animals, specifically cats and dogs, in their rental units without imposing additional security deposits or fees. This bipartisan effort is spearheaded by Ohio Representative Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) and Assistant Majority Whip Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth).

Breed-specific restrictions in rental housing can unfairly target certain dog breeds.
Photo: Pexels
Breed-specific restrictions in rental housing can unfairly target certain dog breeds.

Incentivizing Pet-Friendly Housing

Under House Bill 277, landlords who choose to open their doors to furry companions could earn a tax credit of up to $750 per unit, with a maximum credit of $7,500 per taxpayer for up to ten units, NBC4 reports. This incentive is designed to reflect the average additional cost associated with pet-friendly units. Importantly, the bill does not mandate landlords to offer pet-friendly housing or eliminate their existing pet-related fees, often known as “pet rents.” Instead, it serves as a stimulus for landlords to consider accommodating pet owners, thereby easing the financial burden on renters.

The Love for Pets and the Housing Crisis

The driving force behind this bill is the love both Representatives Brent and Ray share for their own companion animals who passed away within the past year. As Rep.

Brent told NBC4, “If people can agree on anything here in the Statehouse, we love our children and we love our pets.”

Pet-related fees, such as pet deposits and pet rents, can strain the finances of pet owners.
Photo: Pexels
Pet-related fees, such as pet deposits and pet rents, can strain the finances of pet owners.

Housing Affordability and Animal Shelters

Ohio, like many other states, is grappling with a housing crisis fueled by factors like inflation and increased housing costs. In Rep. Brent’s district, nearly 70% of the population rents, and those increasing costs are making stable housing inaccessible to some Spectrum Local News reports.

As housing costs rise, animal shelters are feeling the strain as well. Tragically, pet owners without financial resources are being forced to surrender their animals due to housing issues.

As of September, over 100 pets were surrendered to the Cleveland Animal Protective League solely due to housing challenges, while an additional 150 were given up because their owners had to move, reports FOX8.

In these situations, people may be hesitant to disclose their reasons for surrendering a pet.

“In a humane society, people shouldn’t be pushed to choose between housing and keeping their animals,” said Sharon Harvey, president and CEO of the Cleveland Animal Protective League and officer of the Ohio Animal Welfare Federation.

The Pet Friendly Rental Act offers a potential solution to this heart-wrenching dilemma.

Size restrictions for pets in rental units can be limiting for pet owners with larger breeds.
Photo: Pexels
Size restrictions for pets in rental units can be limiting for pet owners with larger breeds.

Potential Concerns and Considerations

While the bill has not yet received proponent or opponent testimony, some members of the House Ways and Means committee, including former or current landlords and tenants, have raised questions about how the requirements for the tax credit might affect rental property owners. According to NBC4, one potential concern is the prohibition of breed or size restrictions imposed by landlords, which could conflict with landlords’ property insurance requirements.

The Ohio Real Estate Investors Association has noted its concerns, particularly about the prohibition of breed and size restrictions. While the association is seeking input from landlords on House Bill 277, those landlords who do not wish to comply with the tax credit requirements can simply opt not to apply for it.

Harvey says this legislation will help eliminate arbitrary barriers to housing based on inaccurate assumption, while landlords seeing the credit would still be able to prohibit dogs classified by law as “dangerous” or “vicious.” The Pet Friendly Rental Act offers flexibility while addressing the fundamental need for pet-friendly housing.

The lack of pet-friendly housing options can force some pet owners to give up their animals.
Photo: Pexels
The lack of pet-friendly housing options can force some pet owners to give up their animals.

Recognizing the Importance of Pets

At its core, the Pet Friendly Rental Act is about recognizing the significance of pets in our families, particularly during challenging times.

As Harvey aptly puts it, “People facing hard times need their pets more than ever.”

This bill not only acknowledges the emotional bonds between people and their animals but also works to ensure that Ohioans can keep their pets, irrespective of the housing options available to them.

The Pet Friendly Rental Act has the potential to provide relief to renters struggling to find pet-friendly housing, ease the burden on animal shelters, and promote a humane society where people aren’t faced with heartbreaking choices due to housing constraints. It’s a bill that embodies the love and compassion that pets bring into our lives, and it may soon become a legislative reality in Ohio, helping to strike a balance between housing affordability and the well-being of our furry family members.

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