Dogs & Laws

Proposed Bill Would Make it Illegal for New Hampshire Landlords to Prohibit Pets

New Hampshire Lawmakers are considering a bill that would end rental discrimination against pet owners in the state, essentially making it illegal for landlords to enact a “no pets” policy.

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Any pet owner that prefers to rent their home understands the challenges faced when trying to find suitable housing.

House Bill 1391, proposed by Representative Ellen Read (D), would make it illegal for landlords or those selling or leasing homes to prohibit pet owners from renting or buying, with some exceptions.

As its written, the bill would prohibit landlords from inquiring about the pets of any person” looking to rent or buy. Additionally, it would ban “no-pets” policies on rental listings and halt evictions because of pet ownership.

The law would also prohibit discrimination against pets based on breed, size, or appearance. But, it would allow landlords to establish mandatory pet deposits in amounts of their own choosing. Pet owners could still potentially be out-priced in their quest to find housing if landlords impose unreasonably high pet deposits. But, this further raises the question, how would they impose pet deposits if they’re aren’t legally permitted to ask if a potential renter has pets?

Landlords could also require that pets be spayed or neutered, and impose rules regarding waste pickup and removal, noise, and safety.

The New Hampshire Humane Society supports the bill, citing the high cost of rent and a tight housing market. “We support any legislation that helps keep pets in homes,” Julia Seeley, New Hampshire state director of the Humane Society, told the Concord Monitor. “We just strongly believe that a family should not be torn apart simply over housing.” Approximately 70% of renters across the state have pets, meaning the impact on their ability to find housing would be substantial.

However, landlords in the state have several objections to the proposed bill. In addition to concerns about protecting their property against the potential for unsanitary or unhealthy conditions from pet owners with untrained animals or those that don’t properly clean up after their animals, landlords worry about future use of the property by tenants with pet allergies. They also believe that prohibiting a landlord from inquiring about pets infringes on their First Amendment rights.

One New Hampshire landlord weighed in with this comment: “As a landlord who has traditionally accepted all pets, and have changed our policy in recent years, I’d like to tell you why. Not only is the barking an issue while the owner isn’t home, but renters are not great at cleaning up dog poop in the yard. We’ve had some very loving dog owners who care for their puppies well, and without fail the owners (us) are picking up poop before mowing… almost every time. Complaints also exist when someone’s child finds / gets into dog poop in the yard. Larger dogs in a small space have also tended to put more wear and tear on the rental home that a simple pet deposit wouldn’t cover, as the damages can be extensive. As an animal lover, I appreciate your noble intentions. As a landlord, I believe this bill infringes on the rights of other tenants to quiet enjoyment and landlords to gauge their own risk tolerance when renting.”

The bill is under review by the House Judiciary Committee and will be considered in a January 30 hearing.

What’s your opinion? Weigh in with a comment below!

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Landlord

    Jan 23, 2020 at 1:36 am

    New Hampshire law specifically restricts landlords from collecting a pet deposit. Even our lawyer has advised us against it.

    “A landlord cannot require you to pay a security deposit greater than one month’s rent or $100, whichever amount is larger.

    If your landlord demands first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit, this may be a violation of the law.”

    So many NH landlords do restrict against pets. Unfortunately our legislative state is over run with Massachusetts do gooders that do more harm by passing laws that incentivize the irresponsible and punish the responsible. If a tenant’s pet does 500-1000 in damage, I now have to rent that unit for 5 to 10 months additional just to recoup those lost costs. If you want pet freedom, allow landlords to assess a pet deposit.

  2. barbara

    Jan 20, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Landlords, as the owner of property, should be able to stipulate whether pets are allowed or not. I am opposed to breed srestrictions, but i understand size restrictions. There are many people with allergies and pet free residences may be the healthiest for them.

  3. Libby

    Jan 20, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    I’ve had Dachshunds since 1955. I’ve looked for apartments allowing pets and been unable to find any acceptable. However, in a multi-unit dwelling, not all residents are comfortable with all pets. Some people are terrified of dogs, cats, snakes etc. The law is fine for a pet owner, but does not serve the interests of all of the people. If I lived in New Hampshire, I would urge my legislators to vote against this bill.

  4. Deanna Robinson

    Jan 20, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    My husband and I have 2 rentals homes, we allow pets, but impose a pet deposit. Unfortunately last year we had to evict someone from one of the rentals for lack of rent payments, 6 months in arrears. When we finally got into the home the stench was so bad, from cats and dogs using the inside of the home a litter box! It was disgusting, we had to rip out all the flooring in the house and treat it with a sealer to get rid of the smell.
    We have animals ourselves and now we impose our right as landlords to inspect the home(24hr. notice)and them must write on the rental agreement how many animals they have.
    It is expensive to repair damages done by both humans and their pets! But, I think it’s fair that renters must state how many pets… I don’t think it’s rights that the legislature takes that away from landlords. We live in Nevada…

  5. John Brown

    Jan 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    This is a gross infringement on property rights. Forcing other people to do what you want is not how a free society operates. If you feel strongly that all dogs should be welcome, then construct your own buildings and advertise that it’s dog-friendly, no deposit needed. No force or compulsion required.

  6. Kathie Kerr

    Jan 20, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    As a landlord in a pet-friendly neighborhood, accepting some smaller pets is a great incentive, but one renter wanted to bring in a pig, so no. We are pet lovers, but we also have had to spend thousands of dollars on ruined hardwood floors from cat urine. There’s no way even a big deposit can cover that. With us, it depends on the house and the flooring and the size of the pet. The yard usually has to be reseeded. It’s a big investment and we strive to keep our rents reasonable.

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