RENTING WITH PETS
Finally there are two Bills before Parliament to help keep pets with their family. Please read below and encourage your MP to support the fairest Bill.
Only 10% of rental properties in Queensland allow pets, yet 85% of people either have or want to have a pet. In 2019/20, 22% of cats and dogs surrendered to AWLQ were due to accommodation issues.
There has been a 32% increase in surrenders due to homelessness since COVID-19. As well, in the past year, 51 animals were admitted to AWLQ’s Emergency Boarding Program for temporary foster care, due to the owner being homeless and not wanting to give up their pet.
There are now two Bills before Parliament which will help tenants to be able to keep their pets. Over the next couple of weeks, you have an opportunity to let your Member of Parliament know which Bill you support.
- The Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 introduced by the government proposes that landlords will no longer be able to just say “no pets” in their tenancy agreements. Tenants will apply to have a pet, and if landlords wish to refuse the pet, they will need to reply to the tenant within 14 days with their grounds for refusal. These grounds include:
- Lack of appropriate fencing, open space or another thing necessary to humanely accommodate the pet.
- The pet is likely to cause damage to the premises or inclusions that could not be repaired for a cost that is less than the amount of the rental bond for the premises.
While we agree that landlords should be able to refuse pets on reasonable grounds, these grounds are so broad, they can be easily used to exclude a pet without allowing the individual owner to demonstrate they are can responsibly care for their pets by providing sufficient care and exercise and preventing damage.
Even though research has shown no statistically significant difference between the cost of damage for tenants with or without pets, tenants feel powerless in negotiations with lessors, and feel discriminated against. They often have to live in less desirable neighbourhoods and accept poor conditions in order to keep their pets, and often feel they have to hide their pets. In the current rental crisis, many are struggling to find any pet-friendly accommodation.
- The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Bill 2021 has an important difference – landlords who wish to refuse pets will need to provide grounds for their refusal to an independent tribunal to decide if their grounds are reasonable. This requirement has already been seen as necessary and introduced in Victorian and ACT legislation.
AWLQ believes that the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Bill 2021 is fairer. To many people pets are considered their family. With growing numbers of retirees who need to rent, many of whom are single and depend on a pet for company, along with the increase in pet surrender due to homelessness during COVID-19, it is important to introduce legislation to ensure that people know they are allowed to have pets provided they demonstrate they can do so responsibly.
AWLQ recognises that landlords want to protect their properties. However up until now often all pet owners have been branded as irresponsible and excluded without being given the opportunity to show responsibility. Instead, landlords can assess and set standards for tenant’s responsibility e.g. ask for pet resumes, set up pet agreements, and meet the pet before allowing the pet. Landlords already have a bond, and can take out pet insurance at reasonable rates. They have the right to inspect the property to encourage the owner to show responsible care for the property. If not satisfied, landlords can then seek permission to refuse a pet on reasonable grounds.
AWLQ has once again joined the Make Renting Fair in Queensland Alliance to urge the community to encourage a change in legislation that will make it easier for renters to keep their pets. To support this, and enable tenants to keep their pets please click here. If you have time, you can amend and personalise the letter.
Thank you for your support on this important issue and helping to keep pets and their family together.