California Senate passes bill protecting renters from mandatory declawing, devocalization

Legislation would prevent landlords from requiring potential tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets.
Jun 13, 2012
By staff

Rental property options for tenants in California could soon become more plentiful, thanks to legislation that's gaining ground in the Golden State. California Senate Bill 1229 (SB 1229), which recently passed California State Senate by a unanimous vote of 37 to 0, would prohibit landlords from refusing occupancy to a potential tenant with pets that are not declawed or devocalized.

The bill, which is authored by Senator Fran Pavley and co-sponsored by the Paw Project and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, would make it illegal for landlords to advertise properties in such a way that discourages potential tenants from applying if their animals are not declawed or devocalized. Additionally, it prohibits landlords from refusing occupancy to a potential tenant with pets that are not declawed or devocalized. If passed, the bill would impose a civil penalty of $1,000 for any person found in violation of these provisions.

The bill has gathered support from a number of organizations, including the California Veterinary Medical Association, the California Apartment Association and local humane societies statewide, all who stand behind the premise that declawing and devocalization are permanent procedures and contradict the temporary nature of rental occupancy. "SB 1229 will protect tenants from being forced to choose between securing housing for their families and subjecting their pets to unnecessary, costly and life-altering medical procedures," says the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in a written statement.

But the bill isn't without opposition. The Animal Council, a nonprofit, California-based group founded on the principle of combating the challenges raised by animal rights activism in the state, has stated, "Landlords have some legal liabilities in nuisances on their owned premises, so the prospect of legal enforcement arising from mention of debarking creates a disincentive to offer or negotiate pet tenancies, particularly if tenants will not mitigate barking or dispose of the animal."

Back in 2010, California Assembly Member Pedro Neva introduced a similar bill, Assembly Bill 2743. Although that bill passed the California Assembly and Senate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it, stating that the findings and declarations of the measure as presented by the Legislature were unsupported by science.

SB 1229 is now waiting for a vote by the State Assembly.