Rantz: Washington Democrats’ bill will ban rentals to pet owners or raise rents

Jan 29, 2024, 5:55 PM

Washington pet deposit...

A cat looks out of a window from a home. (Photo: Markus Scholz/Getty Images)

(Photo: Markus Scholz/Getty Images)

Washington Democrats have tried to cut down the costs of housing with a series of burdensome and financially illiterate restrictions on landlords. But their newest bill likely means you either can’t have a pet in a leased property or rent will surge.

Senate Bill 6064 caps pet security deposits at $150. Pet-related fees are meant to cover damage to a unit caused by the pet. But $150 isn’t enough to cover a quality carpet cleaning after a dog or cat does its damage. And it certainly wouldn’t cover fixing any significant scratches to paint and carpets or other flooring — or having to replace the flooring altogether.

Senator Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) did not explain where he came up with the $150, dubiously titled “pet rent,” when asked by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. But it appears he put little thought into it. During testimony at a committee hearing, he cited “survey information we had about an average pet damage.” But he conceded “that is probably not the right approach.”

He’s right — it’s not. And it won’t have the effect he thinks.

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The reality of what this bill really means for pet owners

Hansen claimed his bill is meant to keep pets and their owners together.

“We have people who end up surrendering animals to shelters because they cannot afford the pet rent or the pet deposits,” Hansen said.

He went on to say it’s illegal to charge fees associated with having children, who also do damage, so he argues his bill makes some sense.

While pet security deposits can be “a real hardship,” as Hansen noted, so is the price associated with property ownership. With a $150 fee cap, the landlord is left with few options. They can take the financial hit, raise rents across the board to mitigate the financial losses they think they’ll suffer, or stop accepting pets.

They’re unlikely to take a financial hit given how expensive it is to operate in Washington, particularly when other fees and rent increases are being micromanaged by Democrats who don’t believe property ownership is a right. What’s most likely is the landlord won’t accept pets or will raise rents (or create another fee that’s called something else; perhaps the “Hansen Fee.”)

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Ideologically driven and lazy

The $150 cap is outrageously low because it’s likely meant to be.

It seems Hansen’s staff did the least amount of research into average pet deposits. When questioned at a committee hearing, he finally acknowledged the number came from an average of pet deposits using national data, not Washington state. Talk about apples to oranges (or cats to horses). It wasn’t even $150. He said it was “somewhere around the $150 to $300 range.” Of course, he went with the lowest number even though he had to have known that it’s more expensive to live in Washington than Oklahoma or Wyoming, which was apparently part of the data he used. Eventually he said the fee cap might have to change.

The whole committee hearing unfolded the way you’d expect when a poorly researched bill is drafted and pitched. But it didn’t matter. Hansen isn’t doing this to help pet owners, but to hurt landlords.

Democrats have gone into overdrive to portray landlords as evil, greedy capitalists nickel and diming tenants, who are portrayed as perpetually the victims. While some landlords do that, the majority do not. They’re small business owners trying to make a living in a very expensive market. But Democrats insist that they know how to run these businesses better than the actual property owners. Consequently, lawmakers aim to cap rental increases, application fees, security deposits, and even force landlords to pay to help someone move out.

While they push their radical changes, they don’t stop to wonder if it’s their policies causing rent increases. That would take some honest personal reflection, of which they are incapable.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Washington Democrats’ bill will ban rentals to pet owners or raise rents