Dog Care

Changing pet ownership rental laws will save lives

It’s a tale we’ve heard countless times—I can’t keep my pet because I’m moving and my new landlord won’t accept pets. It’s a heart-breaking situation and decision: do you choose a house or your pet? And not everyone has the luxury of turning down a property.

Our animals are our babies—and we shouldn’t be penalised in the rental industry for simply loving. So that’s exactly what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews recently with his pets in rental properties reforms.

If approved, the Premier’s amendments to the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act could be implemented as early as 2019—which will make renting significantly easier for pet owners.

The RSPCA reported that up to 30% of the 45,000 dogs and 54,000 cats surrendered to them were as a result of new rental properties not allowing tenants to keep pets. Heartbreakingly, a fair amount of these surrendered animals will not find homes, and will be put down.

Don’t want to contribute to thousands of homeless animals each year? Help fight outdated rental laws. Image via Pexels.

Under the proposed new legislation, tenants will have the right to keep pets with the landlord’s written approval. However, unlike NSW legislation, the onus will be on the landlord to prove why a pet should not be approved with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

This is amazing news for pet owners, and I sincerely hope more states follow in Victoria’s progressive footsteps.

In comparison, NSW is still very much behind the times—but in 2016, strata by-laws were changed so that a pet ban could no longer be the default.

First National Real Estate is also getting behind the pet ownership in rentals movement, by directly encouraging their landlords to consider allowing pets.

In their latest newsletter, First National found that pet owners are often willing to pay more rent, and tend to stay in one place longer—and that landlords chances of having properties leased quickly increase when allowing pets. The Petcare Information Advisory Services states that 66% of Australian families have pets—yet only 9% of the population are allowed to rent properties with their pets.

Don’t deny good pets and their owners a safe home. Image via Pexels.

Things need to change. Because presently, moving with a pet is nothing short of a stressful nightmare.

When I was a university student, I fostered two cats and nursed them back to health—had my landlord and real estate not been so understanding and fantastic, allowing me to keep them, those beautiful animals might not have been saved (thank you again, First National).

Owning pets is not a crime. And despite many landlords in an uproar over “losing their rights” with the proposed Victorian legislation changes, there are many safety policies in place to ensure their home is treated well.

Firstly, most pet owners are responsible pet owners. If our animals cause damage, we fix it—simple as that. In my current lease, we even have a pet damage clause, and have agreed to fumigate and steam clean the property when we leave.

This is not infringing on landlord rights. Yes, they own the property—but it’s an investment property. For renters, it’s our home. And our pets are our family. Changing laws will allow us to save more animals with more loving homes able to take in furry friends. Isn’t that more important than some claw marks a reasonable tenant will fix anyway?

Zoe is a journalist with a passion for all things wacky and strange. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for more!

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