New Law Protects Pet Owners From Pet Rent and Breed Discrimination

In a move that has sparked both celebration and concern, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB23-1068 into law, ushering in significant changes for pet owners, insurers, law enforcement, and landlords across the state. This new legislation aims to redefine how these entities treat pet owners and their furry companions.

“We’ve given options and predictability to pet lovers and pet guardians across the state,” said Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a Democratic sponsor of the bill. “We’ve heard from animal shelters that pet surrenders from renters have gone up, so we’re trying to save these pets and families.”

Colorado's new law prohibits property owners from charging pet rent or denying tenants based on the breed of their pet.

Photo: Pexels
Colorado’s new law prohibits property owners from charging pet rent or denying tenants based on the breed of their pet.

One of the key provisions in the bill prohibits insurers from denying homeowner’s insurance or dwelling fire insurance solely based on the breed of a dog residing at a property, KOSI 101.1 reports. Additionally, insurers are no longer allowed to inquire about the breed of a pet dog, although they can still ask if a specific animal has been deemed dangerous.

This shift aims to protect pet owners from discriminatory practices based on breed stereotypes.

Many countries and jurisdictions have repealed or modified their BSL laws in recent years due to concerns about their efficacy and fairness.

Photo: Pexels
Many countries and jurisdictions have repealed or modified their BSL laws in recent years due to concerns about their efficacy and fairness.

Another notable change introduced by the bill concerns the treatment of pets during evictions. Now, officers executing a writ of restitution, commonly known as an eviction, must give pets to tenants if they are present at the time the eviction is carried out, the Denver Gazette reports. In cases where tenants are not present, the responsibility falls on local animal control to take custody of the animals, with efforts made to inform the tenant of their whereabouts. This provision could prevent unnecessary separation between pet owners and their beloved companions during already difficult times.

Furthermore, the bill limits pet-related security deposits. Pet owners can rejoice as security deposits are capped at a maximum refundable fee of $300. Additionally, the bill sets a clear limit on the amount of ‘pet rent’ that landlords can charge. Landlords can now charge no more than $35 or 1% of the tenant’s monthly rent, whichever amount is greater. These measures aim to alleviate the financial burden on pet owners, making it more feasible for them to find suitable rental accommodations.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws and regulations that target specific dog breeds or types.

Photo: Pexels
Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws and regulations that target specific dog breeds or types.

Pet rents across Colorado previously averaged between $35 to $100 a month, with some fees as high as $1,500, Lewis maintains.

Amidst the celebration surrounding this legislation, some concerns have been raised. While many view the passage of the bill as a resounding victory for pet-owner rights, others worry that the new limitations on pet rent and security deposits may dissuade landlords from opening their rental spaces to pet-owning tenants, reports the Durango Herald. The fear is that landlords may find it financially unfavorable to accommodate pets, leading to reduced options for pet owners searching for suitable housing.

Many animal welfare organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, oppose BSL and advocate for breed-neutral approaches.

Photo: Pexels
Many animal welfare organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, oppose BSL and advocate for breed-neutral approaches.

The bill, which was first introduced on January 19, has garnered significant attention and sparked debates among various stakeholders. Now, with its passage into law, only time will reveal the true impact it will have on pet owners, landlords, and the rental market in Colorado.

Families that love their pets shouldn’t have to lose them because of misguided regulations. Further, passing the Pets Belong With Families Act wold help get animals out of shelters and into caring homes.

Sign the petition now and tell Congress to pass the Pets Belong with Families Act!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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