HUD Proposes New Rule for Pet Deposits, Seeks Comments
HUD recently issued proposed rules intended to harmonize its pet deposit policies. Agents and owners of sites designated for the elderly or handicapped aren’t allowed to discriminate against residents or applicants that own or keep a common household pet [HUD Handbook 4350.1, Ch. 32, Sec. 1]. The agents and owners, however, may require the applicant or resident to pay a pet deposit.
The term “common household pet” means a domesticated animal--such as a dog, cat, bird, rodent (including a rabbit), fish, or turtle--that's traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes. According to the Handbook, a common household pet doesn’t include reptiles (except turtles). And if this definition conflicts with any applicable state or local laws or regulations defining the pets that may be owned or kept in dwelling accommodations, the state or local laws or regulations must be applied.
The proposed rules would do away with the restrictive requirement that owners of Section 8 properties have to gradually accumulate a pet deposit. Current rules mandate an initial deposit and subsequent monthly collection of a pet deposit until the pet deposit cap is reached. The initial payment is not to exceed $50 when the pet is brought onto the site, and subsequent monthly payments can’t exceed $10 per month until the amount of the deposit is reached. HUD’s maximum pet deposit by notice is currently set at $300. Public housing authorities, on the other hand, are allowed to decide between gradually accumulating the pet deposit or to require a one-time upfront payment of the deposit.
HUD has explained that the differing requirements governing deposits were based on the fact that residents in the affected sites are, as a general rule, lower income and may have difficulty making the pet deposit. While this is still generally true, HUD is acknowledging that the regulatory mandate that owners gradually accumulate deposit amounts has also sometimes imposed an undue hardship for owners. When funds are needed for repairs and replacements, fumigation, and animal care facilities shortly after a resident brings a pet onto the site, the accumulated pet deposit may be insufficient to pay repair and clean-up costs. Consequently, the owner may have to use the site’s reserve for replacement account or the resident’s security deposit to fund required repairs if a sufficient pet deposit hasn’t been accumulated.
The proposed rule applies only to policies for pets and not to service or assistance animals for persons with disabilities. Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding this proposed rule. Comments are due by July 23, 2013, and must refer to docket number HUD-2013-0047-0001. You can submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.