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Plan to give tax breaks for rentals that allow pets moving ahead

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(The Center Square) – A plan to give tax breaks to landlords who allow renters to have pets is getting attention again in the Ohio House of Representatives.

After sitting four months without movement in the chamber’s Ways and Means Committee, the Pet Friendly Rental Act is expected to get its fourth hearing Tuesday morning.

Lawmakers believe the bill, initially introduced in September, could help a significant affordable housing crunch throughout the state.

House Bill 227 would create a $750 per unit tax credit of up to $7,500 per taxpayer if landlords do not restrict pets by breed or size or impose nonrefundable fees or higher rents related to pets.

Landlords could still have pet-free units.

“HB277 is in response to the growing and complex housing crisis throughout our state where Ohio pet owners are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to surrender their beloved family members due to the lack of pet-friendly and affordable housing options,” said Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth.

The office of Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, told The Center Square she may introduced a sub-bill Tuesday morning before the hearing.

The proposed legislation has received support from animal welfare groups from around the state.

“There are many reasons why people relinquish their pets to animal shelters, but among the most heartbreaking are those related to families that are forced to do so because of housing insecurity,” Colleen Evans, executive director of the Ohio Animal Welfare Federation, recently told the committee. “These people, whether they are living in poverty, senior citizens living on fixed incomes, people struggling with everyday financial challenges, or people that simply need to move, are often forced to consider giving up their four-legged family member or face living in their car or even on the street until they can find an affordable place for their entire family, four-legged members included, to live.

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission estimates the total cost of the tax credit would be between $160 million and $225 million annually. It estimated 700,000 rental properties owned by individuals or entities across the state, accounting for about 1.7 million rental units.

The commission said of an estimated 1.5 million renter-occupied housing units in Ohio about 370,000 have at least one dog in their household, and around 300,000 have at least one cat, according to the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey. Nearly 600,000 renter-occupied units in Ohio appear to have at least one pet, including other types of pets apart from dogs and cats.

There has been no opposition testimony in the bill’s three previous committee hearings.

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