ENVIRONMENT
10/23/2014 01:04 pm ET Updated Oct 24, 2014

Proposed Law Would Make All Housing Pet-Friendly In One California City

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Call it Barkeley, California.

Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguin has proposed that the city prohibit landlords from not allowing pets in rental units.

“Landlords (currently) have the right to say you cannot have a pet," Arreguin said, according to the Daily Californian. "That shouldn’t automatically be a barrier.”

The law would apply to cats, small dogs and other apartment-sized pets, like hamsters and snakes. Landlords wouldn't be able to prohibit these animals so long as they can be "reasonably accommodated." The tenant would be responsible for any property damage.

Arreguin said in a memo to the city's mayor and city council that his proposal stems partly from confusion over the classification of pets vs. animals that are kept for therapeutic reasons. He also noted the potential for tenants to claim their pets to be "emotional support animals" in order to bypass landlord restrictions on pets.

The councilman's spokesperson told Time.com that other considerations include reducing pet euthanasia rates and increasing pet adoptions and registrations, as well as rates of spaying and neutering.

A spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told Time.com that the group "supports any efforts to get animals into homes."

Landlords have been less enthusiastic. According to the Daily Californian, Sid Lakireddy, president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, said that this arrangement could trigger an increase in public health problems, like asthma.

Another member of the Berkeley city council, Susan Wengraf, told the paper she thinks this issue should be left to negotiations between landlords and tenants.

Arreguin's proposal was presented to the council on Tuesday night. The legislative body is expected to take a few months to deliberate and return a report on the proposed law, which has been called the, ahem, fur-st of its kind nationwide.

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