Pet Deposit Bill will aid landlords/tenants

Finding pet-friendly rentals here on Oahu can be pretty tough. When they are available they are often snapped up quickly, which is why the Pet Deposit Bill is so important to landlords and tenants.

The bill, which was introduced in both the Hawaii state Senate and House of Representatives this legislative session, would allow landlords and tenants to negotiate a pet security deposit. It’s just like the security deposit, but it’s only for potential pet damage costs. So if you’re responsible and no damages occur from your pet, you’ll get the money back when you move out. Right now, it’s illegal for a landlord to charge a separate pet fee.

Why is it better to have it as part of the rental agreement?

“We have found that many landlords are apprehensive to making their property/building pet friendly in fear of financial concerns, specifically that they will not be able to recoup fixing pet-related issues,” says Jennifer J. Han, policy advocate at the Hawaiian Humane Society. “This bill seeks to address this financial concern of landlords while permitting responsible pet-owning tenants to get back their security deposit where their pets do not cause damages.”

With nearly 60 percent of Oahu households having at least one pet, according to a 2012 Ward Research study, more pet-friendly housing is clearly needed.

Han says now the common practice in rental agreements is to increase rent for tenants with pets. For example, a landlord might want to charge an extra $100 a month if they have a pet, which they can legally do, but the renter doesn’t get any of that money back if there are no damages, as they would with a pet deposit.

Providing everything goes smoothly through the legislature, the bill should become an act (or law) by the end of the legislative session on May 1, and would become effective on November 1, 2013. So far the bill has not seen any major roadblocks. You can learn more about it here or get involved in the 2013 legislation through the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Since most of us consider our pets members of the family, it makes sense to ensure our furry ohana are protected as well.

Pet lovers, take note: Look for a feature about unusual and fun local products and services for pets in our April issue.