L.A. moves to protect renters who got a pet during the pandemic lockdown

A stylized sign reading "South Los Angeles Animal Services Center/Chesterfield Square" in front of a building
Tenants in Los Angeles won’t have to surrender their pets to overcrowded shelters, the measure’s supporters say.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to prevent landlords from evicting tenants who took in a pet at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — even if it was prohibited by their leases.

The 13-0 vote, with Councilmembers Heather Hutt and Katy Yaroslavsky absent, will etch into law a tenant protection that was introduced during the pandemic lockdown but that was slated to expire at the end of January. Supporters say the ordinance will avert further worsening of the homelessness crisis, as well as minimize further crowding at animal shelters.

Tenants who have unauthorized pets, however, must notify their landlord within a month. The ordinance does not apply to pets who began living in the rental unit after Jan. 31, 2023.


The issue was raised in February 2023 in a report from the city Department of Animal Services, which said tenants would be forced to decide between remaining housed or giving up their pets.

Now, tenants won’t have to surrender their pets to shelters, which are currently “bursting at the seams,” according to Larry Gross, president of the Board of Animal Services Commissioners.

“It will keep families together, because many of these pets were brought in three or four years ago, and they’re part of people’s families,” said Gross, who is also executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival. “It’s a tremendous victory for pets, for tenants, and it was the most humane thing that the city could have done.”

Prior to the vote, Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez also spoke in favor of the ordinance, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown had a wide-ranging “social, economic and health impact on our communities.”

“Many people lost their loved ones and were dealing with isolation from quarantine, which led many to get new additions to their families,” Hernandez said. “These pets have helped people get through difficult times, and tenants should not be evicted from their homes because of the pets.”


Audience members at the meeting also expressed concern over possible evictions and over the mental health of tenants who sheltered pets to better their mental health.

“Animals are the only thing keeping them going,” said one Animal Services volunteer.

Many landlords also backed the ordinance. In a Dec. 5 letter to the City Council, the California Apartment Assn., which represents landlords and other property owners, wrote that it supported the “Animal Services’ report and city’s goal of resolving this unique situation.”

The organization asked the City Council to include the provision mandating that tenants inform their housing provider of an animal’s presence.

“It is important for the property owner to be aware of animals and general activity in the community,” the letter read.

Nearly a week after the landlord association’s request, the City Council voted 14 to 0 to have City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto draft the language for the ordinance, which goes into effect immediately.