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Bill in Colorado legislature targets pet rent, deposits

More than half a dozen bills have been filed in the Colorado legislature on topics from rent control to eviction protections.

COLORADO, USA — Finding an apartment in Denver is no walk in the park, especially not for pairs like Jake Bell and his 9-year-old boxer-pointer mix, Zeus. 

Zeus' legs don't work so well on hardwood these days, so Bell has to find a home with carpeting -- and he has to find a landlord who will accept pets in the first place. When he did, his new landlord demanded a pet deposit. 

A new proposal in the Colorado legislature would ban landlords from charging those deposits for pets, and from charging monthly pet rent. 

It's one of more than half a dozen pro-tenant proposals that lawmakers have filed so far this legislative session.

"There are some doozies that would really have an impact on the cost of providing rental housing," said Drew Hamrick, the general counsel for the Colorado Apartment Association, which represents landlords. 

Among the proposals:

  • HB23-1068, which would prohibit landlords from charging pet rent or pet deposits. It would establish a fund, at an estimated $250,000 annual cost to the state, to reimburse landlords for pet-related expenses. 
  • HB23-1171, which would require "just cause" for a landlord to evict a tenant. Just cause would include nonpayment of rent.
  • HB23-1099, which would remove multiple application fees for prospective tenants by requiring landlords to accept a recent background check ("screening report") instead of charging prospective tenants to conduct another screening.
  • HB23-1115, which would allow municipalities to put rent control measures in place. 
  • HB23-1120, which would expand eviction protections for tenants who receive public assistance.
  • HB23-1095, which would prohibit leases from containing certain clauses favorable to landlords.

Hamrick said the rent control provision was of particular concern to landlords and could slow investment in more housing in Colorado. He said the others could increase costs for landlords, which will eventually be passed along to tenants. 

"The only revenue source for any rental housing provider are their customers, so ultimately when you make it more expensive to do business it just means higher rent for all of us," Hamrick said. 

Bell understands why landlords feel it necessary to charge pet rent, but he doesn't think it should apply to dogs as well-trained as Zeus. 

"I think a pet deposit makes sense, but maybe not for everyone," he said. 

He thinks cutting down on application fees, however, is a great idea. 

"It makes people be able to go find and apply to places a little easier," Bell said. 

The lawmakers' proposals have a long way to becoming law, but Hamrick suspects at least some of them will make it through the legislative process in some form. Several don't have committee hearings yet scheduled.


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