holmes pet presser 021820 1 032321SPRINGFIELD – To address an issue allowing pets in rental properties, Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has moved a measure through the Judiciary Committee that will allow tenants to maintain at least two common household pets, regardless of breed, size or weight, within the tenant's residence.

 “Eighty-one million American households now share their homes with 173 million dogs and cats,” Holmes said. “Regardless of their income, people love their pets and view them as members of the family. Affordable housing should be accessible for all types of people, and that includes people with pets.”

Senate Bill 154 applies to units funded under the Illinois Housing Development Authority Trust Fund. It addresses a problem for many renters who face giving away or surrendering a pet to a shelter if they must move due to a landlord’s arbitrary policy prohibiting a breed, size or weight of a pet. This will end this practice.

In Illinois, pre-pandemic data show that up to 38% of the dogs and cats surrendered to Illinois animal shelters are surrendered simply because of housing issues. In 2019, 147,000 dogs and cats entered shelters in Illinois and 11,400 were killed. These surrenders put a burden on shelters that are already full and in need of resources.

Some landlords allege that pets are destructive. However according to the Companion Animal Renters Study: The Market for Rental Housing for People and Pets, there is little difference in damage between tenants with and without pets. The greatest difference between damage from tenants with pets and those without was under $40. Also, pet-friendly renters remained an average of 46 months, compared to 18 months for tenants in rentals prohibiting pets.

Landlords would still be allowed to enforce policies related to sanitation, vaccination and registration of tenants’ pets under Holmes’ proposal. SB 154 also says a housing provider won’t be liable for injuries caused by a tenant's pet except for willful and wanton misconduct.

This legislation does not limit or affect other laws that require accommodations for persons with disabilities who maintain an animal for assistance, service or support.

Senate Bill 154 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

NOTE: The photo above was taken at a pre-pandemic press conference on this legislation.

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