Pet Tax

Dakota plays a game of fetch with her owner Dylan. (Henry Ward/Daily Emerald)

Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would prevent landlords from charging tenants for “pet rent” if they chose to keep animals in their apartments, according to a report on Jan. 21. House Bill 2683 would still allow landlords to charge tenants with a deposit for their pets upon moving in but would prohibit any additional monthly charges to rent. In addition, those for the bill have said that it would help stop the increase of rent across the state.

Some fear that, if passed, the bill will have a poor impact on rental owners. When speaking to The Oregonian, Ron Garcia of the Rental Housing Alliance claimed that the bill was “misguided” and would likely make it more difficult for rental owners to receive compensation for the potential damage pets could cause to their properties.

For college students beginning to look for apartments, the bill could provide a financial advantage that would allow them to own a pet. While it is understandable that rental owners would be fearful of not being able to compensate for pet damages, the bill still allows for landlords to mandate pet deposits for their tenants with pets. Such deposits act like security deposits meant to compensate for any damage that may occur while the tenant lives in the residence. If landlords already charge pet deposits to compensate for pet damage, they should not need to charge the additional monthly pet rent as well.

The cost of pet rent can range anywhere between $10 to $50 a month, depending on the size or type of pet. For college students with an already tight budget, it can be difficult to pay fees in addition to their monthly rent. This factor could discourage them from pursuing pet ownership, preventing them from experiencing the long-term benefits of owning a pet.

According to the Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University, owning a pet can reduce stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as provide social support. Due to heightened energy levels in some pets, they may also encourage increased activity in their owners. Other benefits include reduced anxiety and increased immunity. Because college students experience so much stress due to courseloads, work and other factors, having a pet to come home to could be beneficial to their overall mood and in overcoming stress.

The University of Oregon’s Duck Nest uses animals to help destress students by bringing in therapy dogs for them to play and interact with. The dogs come from PAAWS, a Eugene-based organization that focuses on “enhancing the quality of life” through the use of interaction with animals.

Another factor that makes pet ownership beneficial to college students is the positive impact it has on reducing depression. A study of adult college students with self-reported depression showed that Animal-Assisted Therapy was beneficial toward lowering their Beck Depression Inventory scores. This indicated that their interaction with animals helped decrease their levels of depression. With an average of 44 percent of American college students having reported symptoms of depression, pet ownership could help combat those symptoms.

The choice to abolish pet rent in Oregon would allow college students, as well as other tenants, the ability to own and care for a pet under less strenuous financial circumstances. While rental owners may argue that the bill is “misguided,” it will still allow them the ability to compensate for any damage the pets may cause through pet deposits. Giving college students the freedom of caring for an animal would become even more accessible through the passing of House Bill 2683, providing them with the chance to improve their lives through pet ownership.

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