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Our View: Yes on pet rent bill but not for hotels

We’ve been watching the evolution of House Bill 1068 that would limit pet rent to 1% of monthly rent or $35 per month, whichever is greater, in addition to capping pet deposits to $300 on top of existing security deposits.

We’re open to possibilities to keep rent affordable in a state where pets are family members. The family members we like, that is.

But here’s where things get wacky. Rep. Matt Soper of Delta introduced an amendment to include hotels. Soper said many hotels charge “outrageous” fees for bringing along pets, and he wanted the bill to limit hotel pet fees to 10% of a listed room price or $50, or 5% and $25 if the pet doesn’t shed.

We like to save money when traveling with pets, too. But Soper’s amendment isn’t appropriate. We can’t help but go into “movie script” mode, as in making up stories about someone else’s life. Here’s one for Soper: Chances are he was traveling with an animal and thought the hotel pet fee was too expensive, so now he’s trying to add this to HB-1068.

We feel Soper’s pain, but the state Legislature is not the place to try to make this change. A representative needs to ascertain what would be most impactful to state residents, most of the time and what wouldn’t be. We don’t need government to be any more cumbersome and intrusive, loading bills with more than is necessary.

Yes, we want hotels to keep pet fees reasonable. No, we don’t want the government involved any more than it has to be.

If hotels start increasing pet fees dramatically, we’ll rethink this. But for now, it’s government overreach to propose including hotels in HB-1068.

The point is to keep rentals as affordable as possible. This conversation isn’t about hotels.

As bill sponsor Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver said, $100 and $125 – common for monthly rental pet fees – could be “the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries for a family.” Valdez is right. A hundred bucks or more is significant for working people.

But the best part of this bill is closing the “pet-fee loophole,” (a term we’re making up in this moment) with landlords turning pets into separate cost items.

The rental market is more than tight, all over the state. We don’t need bad-actor landlords adding an extra monthly cost.

Of course, tenants must be responsible for their pets. And pet fees and deposits must match the cost, time and aggravation landlords endure while cleaning up pet messes and repairing damage behind a disrespectful tenant.

HB-1068 would also prohibit homeowner insurance providers from denying policies based on specific dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers.

It would require law enforcement conducting evictions to give pets present to the tenant or, if the tenant is not there, turn the pets over to a local animal shelter or rescue.

We hate to think this wasn’t always the case. Being evicted would be awful, much less being separated from pets.

Housing instability is the No. 1 reason that pets are surrendered to animal shelters. So far this year, around 200 pets have been dropped off at Dumb Friends League shelters in Colorado because of problems with housing, not including homelessness, according to the organization.

By the way, Soper’s amendment failed after Valdez said it was outside of the scope of the bill, but he committed to working with Soper to consider a separate bill to address hotel pet fees.

We’d rather that Valdez didn’t.

We don’t like that pet fees at hotels made it as far as it did, tacked on to a measure addressing affordable rentals. We’d rather lawmakers focus on more pressing work at hand, as this session winds down.

If a new – or amended – measure lands in legislators’ laps, it better be worthwhile.