Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban pet rent. Known as House Bill 2683, the bill would prevent landlords from charging their tenants for additional rent if they choose to keep animals in their apartments.
Up to 70% of apartment renters say they own pets, and 44% of U.S. households own a dog. When moving into an apartment, renters often have to pay a pet deposit between $100 to $300 with additional monthly fees known as pet rent.
Pet rent can range anywhere between $10 to $50 a month depending on the size and type of pet. Pet rent for dogs is often higher than rent for cats. Lawmakers say these additional monthly fees are unnecessary and are driving an increase in rent across the state.
Ron Garcia of the Rental Housing Alliance said the bill was misguided and could make it more difficult for rental owners to receive compensation for potential damage that tenants’ pets could cause to their properties.
However, the bill would still allow landlords to charge tenants with a pet deposit at their initial move-in date. Lawmakers say that if rental owners are already charging tenants a pet deposit to compensate for potential pet damages, they shouldn’t need to charge additional monthly pet rent.
House Bill 2683 may not seem like much, but it could be a financial game changer for Generations Y and Z. Young adults in the U.S. are infamously struggling with student loan debt, credit card debt, and low-paying jobs.
These factors have kept many young Americans from investing in real estate. In fact, a recent study has shown it could be 20 years before millennials have enough money to make a down payment on a house. And home ownership stats back up that claim. In 2016, almost 66% of American households are rented.
In states like Texas, where most homes built less than 50 years ago have a slab foundation, the average listing price of a house is $274,900. In Oregon, the average listing price for a house is even more expensive at $342,100.
These factors are also causing a boom in pet parenting. Up to 44% of millennials see pets are “starter children,” but more than that millennials and Generation Z are seeing pets as the less-expensive substitutes for the kids they can’t afford to have.
But in recent years, pet rent has increased significantly across Oregon and has pushed up rental prices in an already-tight housing market. Renters in Northwest Portland currently monthly pet rent fees of $25 to $75 a month.
A reduction in rental costs could encourage young Americans to pursue pet ownership and save for a down payment, which would boost real estate sales in Oregon.
“Having been a biological parent, foster parent, and a pet parent, I can say children do more damage than pets and no one charges more for each kid,” said Rep. Tawna Sanchez, one of three lawmakers sponsoring the bill. “So why should people be required to pay additionally for a pet beyond an initial deposit?”
Despite the potential savings for pet-owning renters, rental provider MultiFamily NW says they oppose the bill. Executive Director Deborah Imse says House Bill 2683 doesn’t address the real housing problem in Oregon, which is affordability.
“We want to help policymakers focus on real solutions. Economists all agree that the way to address housing affordability is to increase supply,” said Imse. “Eliminating pet rent is a distraction from this core issue.”