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Bill offers Ohio landlords tax credits for dog and cat-friendly units

A black cat makes a great pet.
A black cat makes a great pet.

State lawmakers are weighing whether to incentivize dog and cat-friendly landlords through a bill that would potentially net property owners $7,500 per year in tax credits.

House Bill 277, introduced by Reps. Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth) and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), would offer a $750 tax credit for each of a landlord’s units that welcome “companion” animals—or, as defined in HB 277, dogs and cats. Landlords could cash in on a maximum of 10 units each calendar year.

To be eligible for the proposed credit, however, property owners couldn’t levy nonrefundable fees on renters or charge additional rent just because of their pet’s presence. They would also have to allow dogs and cats of every breed and size, although they could turn away “vicious or dangerous” ones, according to the bill.

Just over two-thirds of Ohioans live in housing that they own, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, but Brent said the state is seeing more and more renters.

“The last thing you want to do is move somewhere where your animal cannot come with you,” Brent said during earlier testimony.

It doesn't place a mandate on landlords to take in pet-owning tenants, but encourages them to do so. Owners with fewer properties would be more likely to take advantage of the proposed credits, she said, because of the 10-unit maximum.

The Cleveland Animal Protective League brought forward the idea, Ray said. Cleveland APL President Shannon Harvey was one of several proponents who testified on the bill during its second hearing on Oct. 31.

Harvey highlighted her concerns with the number of people who have left pets at shelters because their current or future landlords wouldn’t allow them—or because they just couldn’t find affordable housing that welcomed their animals.

"This bill will entice landlords, perhaps more of the smaller landlords, who would be that transitional housing or would be that rental properties that people in this situation might be in," Harvey said.

But Rep. Angela King (R-Celina) wasn't sold on the $750 amount, among other hesitations with the proposal.

“I think it's well-intended,“ King said. “$750 doesn't go very far. For me as a landlord, that would not entice me.“

An Ohio Legislative Service Commission fiscal analysis figured the credits would cost roughly between $160 million and $255 million annually.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at