girl dog 080621SPRINGFIELD – To prevent families from having to give up beloved pets to find affordable housing, Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) measure was signed by the governor Friday. It will allow tenants to keep two cats or a dog, regardless of breed, size or weight, in their residence.

“Eighty-one million American households now share their homes with 173 million dogs and cats,” Holmes said. “Regardless of their income, people love their pets and view them as members of the family. Affordable housing should be accessible for all types of people, and that includes people with pets.”

Senate Bill 154 prevents landlords from enacting policies that prohibit pets of a specific breed, size or weight, addressing a problem for many renters who face giving away or surrendering a pet to a shelter if they must move. The legislation applies to units funded under the Illinois Housing Development Authority Trust Fund.

In Illinois, pre-pandemic data show that up to 38% of the dogs and cats surrendered to Illinois animal shelters are surrendered simply because of housing issues. In 2019, 147,000 dogs and cats entered shelters in Illinois and 11,400 were killed. These surrenders put a burden on shelters that are already full and in need of resources.

Landlords are still allowed to enforce policies related to sanitation, vaccination and registration of tenants’ pets under Holmes’ new law. SB 154 also says a housing provider won’t be liable for injuries caused by a tenant's pet, except in cases of willful and wanton misconduct.

This legislation does not limit or affect other laws that require accommodations for persons with disabilities who maintain an animal for assistance, service or support.

With the governor’s signature, Senate Bill 154 will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.