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Will landlords be forced to accept pets?

09 November 2016 Reporter
Pets in investment properties

One company is seeking a law change which would compel landlords and property managers to accept pets in rental properties, something some owners are already doing without their PMs’ knowledge.

The annual PETstock Pet Parent Survey interviewed more than 900 pet owners Australia-wide and found around 54 per cent of pet owners believed landlords and property managers should be compelled to allow pets.

The survey revealed that while a handful of owners – 8 per cent – admitted their pets had damaged a rental home, 30 per cent ‘strongly agreed’ that landlords should be compelled to accept pets and 24 per cent ‘agreed’. Only 1.5 per cent ‘strongly disagreed’ with the need to change the law.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2.16 million renting families are pet owners, but PETstock has concerns landlords are “reluctant to advertise a property as allowing pets” and many renters fear “they won’t be allowed or [will] have their applications rejected”.

The survey found 4 per cent of respondents simply did not tell their landlord or property manager they were keeping pets on the property.

PETstock chief executive officer Shane Young said the process of pet owners trying to find accommodation can be heartbreaking and stressful.

“Given that an incredible 83 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they treated their pets as their children, these figures are not surprising,” Mr Young said.

“When they are looking for a place to live, it can be really hard for pet parents to find a place where the owners will allow them to keep their pet.”

Mr Young cited Victoria as a problematic example, but one that could be moving in the right direction.

“In Victoria, there are no laws that directly cover pets in tenancies or residencies, but landlords often include a clause in the lease banning them,” he said, noting that this may soon change with the state government currently reviewing tenancy laws, including the law on pets. PETstock predicted any change in Victorian law may set a precedent for other states.

In its submission to the inquiry in Victoria, the RSPCA said it was time to correct the perception that all pets damaged rental properties and to overturn the landlord ban on animal owners.

The RSPCA said pet owners can be unfairly hurt by current arrangements and reluctantly forced to surrender their pets. Some 700 animals were surrendered to RSPCA Victoria animal care centres last financial year when owners couldn’t move them between properties.

Will landlords be forced to accept pets?
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