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City of Berkeley considers lifting pet restrictions for apartment hunters

San Francisco SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) employee Barbara Saunders plays with a cat in its
San Francisco SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) employee Barbara Saunders plays with a cat in its "apartment" as it awaits adoption May 2, 2007 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Pet owners searching for a place to live in Berkeley may soon have one less thing to worry about during the hunt for an apartment.

Lawmakers in Berkeley are considering a unique new law that would prevent landlords from restricting tenants from having pets. City councilman Jesse Arreguin, who proposed the law, says the pets would have to be well-behaved and easily accommodated, and tenants would have to take responsibility for any damage the pet caused. Arreguin’s proposal would allow landlords to evict a tenant if a pet is a danger to other tenants or is causing a lot of damage.

Landlords often make exceptions on pet bans for emotional-support animals for people who claim mental illness, but Arreguin says these exemptions often confuse other tenants. He says his proposal would make this process easier for both landlords and tenants, who would be required to tell a landlord up front if they have a pet. Arreguin also says that it would cut down on the city’s homeless pet population, as tenants would no longer have to give up their furry friends to the city’s animal shelter because they couldn’t find a pet-friendly place to live.

Landlords in Berkeley aren’t exactly thrilled about the idea. They say repairs such as scratched floors, clawed-up carpets, and lingering pet odors often costs more than what the tenant’s security deposit covers, which leaves them left to cover the difference. City council is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday but may refer it to the housing and animal commission, which would mean it might not return to the council for a full vote for a couple of months.


Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Councilmember representing District 4. He is behind the proposal that’d ban landlords from turning away tenants with pets

Albert Sukoff, past president and a member of the board of director at the Berkeley Property Owners Association