Culture

GOOD NEWS, DOG LOVERS: There’s A New Push To Stop Landlords Banning Pets

I guess this applies to other types of animals too. But mainly DOGS.

Anyone who lives in Sydney knows just how gruelling and soul-destroying it can be to find a rental property… unless you happen to love waiting in lines with 200 other people in order to inspect a mould-infested shack. And it’s only getting worse.

According to the ABS, 26.9 percent of Australian households were renting in 1995-96, compared to 31 percent in 2013-14.  The number of Australians renting properties is steadily increasing, so this difficulty in finding a place to live is becoming more common. As anyone with a pet knows, it’s even more impossible with the addition of a four-legged snoot in the mix.

Maybe you can write an article about rental property lines, Rory.

Well there’s now a push to get that changed! Members of the NSW Labor Party are considering a policy that would stop all landlords in the state from outright banning pets from their properties. The policy would also include removing no-grounds evictions and prohibit “punitive and discriminatory practices, including rent bidding”. ­

It is currently legal for landlords to specify that pets are not allowed on their rental properties, which vastly diminishes both the amount of rental properties available for pet owners, and also unfortunately, the quality. In my experience as a dog owner, the only properties I found were ones already so ruined that a family with a casual herd of sharp-hoofed gazelles couldn’t make it worse, or properties owned by the rare dog-friendly landlord. The latter become fiercely contested, with the winners generally being well-off nuclear families who look like they’re from a toothpaste ad and have perfect dogs with the personalities of Furbies. Students or freelance writers with highly disturbed rescue dogs have a much harder time.

The idea to change all this has been around for some time. Tenancy advocacy groups have long supported a total abolishment of the current policy and earlier this year a Change.org petition to this effect garnered more than 15,000 signatures. Last year The RSPCA put in a similar submission to the Victorian Government, asking for the removal of the ‘no pets’ clause that landlords frequently use. RSPCA Victoria chief executive Dr Liz Walker said “RSPCA Victoria deals daily with animal owners who have no choice but to surrender their animals to us in order to get into the rental market.”

Though nothing is certain right now, the good news is that NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has not ruled the proposition out. “Labor is currently considering its response to the government’s review of the Residential Tenancy Act,” a spokesperson said. However, while the proposal would be a huge boon to pet owners in NSW, the Real Estate Institute of NSW, who I can only imagine look like a medley of cartoon villains, has spoke against the proposal saying is has “no basis in reality”.

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The Real Estate Institute president, John Cunningham, has doubled down on this fun and happy viewpoint. “To have a blanket ‘pets allowed’ policy will create havoc,” he told The Daily Telegraph.  He also stated the idea was “probably the Left going a bit too far to the left”.

People just want to have good dogs in their backyards. Is that so hard to understand?