This policy has been developed with input from RSPCA Australia.
Tenant Rights wrote recently on "Why tenants MUST have the right to keep family pets" where key issues around renting with pets were highlighted. Tenant Rights spoke about the impact negative attitudes toward pets in rentals has for families, who are forced to give up their loved family members, and the volume of pets which are surrendered as a result.
Tenant Rights is pleased to see that pet ownership is an important issue for over 19,000 families who have shared this content to date - and still growing fast!
The Responsible Rental Pet Rights Policy, authored by Tenant Rights, aims to give tenants the right to keep pets in rental accommodation, whilst also ensuring important animal welfare needs are protected.
The current system assumes all pets will be a nuisance, or damage property, and so should not automatically be able to be accommodated in rental homes.
However, to our knowledge, this assumption is not underpinned or supported by research that indicates that property owners who accept pets in rentals are disadvantaged financially or in any other way by the fact that their tenants own pets.
Responsible Rental Pet Rights Policy
The Tenant Rights Party, along with the RSPCA, believes a pet can make a wonderful addition to your life. The social and health benefits of pet ownership are well recognised.
However, owning a pet is a lifetime responsibility. A dog or cat, for example, may live up to 15-20 years. Therefore, rental property tenants - like all Australians - should very carefully consider their ability to accommodate a pet for the entire duration of its life, before making the commitment to adopt a pet.
Tenants should carefully consider the type of rental accommodation they are likely to be able to afford and secure in the long term, and this should be a key factor in determining the type of pet they choose. The RSPCA can provide advice in this respect.
Tenancy agreements should automatically include a provision for tenants to keep pets, with some clear checks and balances to protect the owner's financial concern in their properties as well as the welfare of the animals. The provision may include an agreement to hold the tenants financially liable should any damages occur.
Where these checks and balances are followed by the tenant, the tenant will automatically have the right to keep their pet in rental accommodation.
This is designed to ensure that appropriate pets are automatically allowed.
Checks and balances
- For a new lease: Tenants must declare in writing, to the landlord or property manager, the number and species of pets that they intend to keep. This may be done;
- At the time of applying, or
- After being approved, but no later than seven (7) days before moving in.
- For an existing lease: Tenants must declare in writing, to the landlord or property manager, the number and species of pets they intend to keep, no later than fourteen (14) days before acquiring the pets.
- Tenants must be prepared to provide relevant pet's microchip, registration, vaccination status and whether it is desexed, to the landlord or property manager, in the written notice.
- Tenants should ensure their pets are compliant with relevant council regulations and strata by-laws at the intended residence, including with regard to registration, micro-chipping and desexing.
- A register that tenants, landlords and property managers can use to ensure that the number and species of pets proposed to live in the accommodation are in line with council regulations, while good animal welfare practices should be established. The register may also be used to report suspected animal abuse.
- Landlords or property managers may only reject the tenants' right to keep a pet if the declared pets do not meet with the council regulations or strata by-laws; if they believe there is a serious risk to the animal's welfare; or if there is damage sustained which has not been repaired by the tenant, within a reasonable time-frame, as determined by the National Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
Important Note: The Tenant Rights Party accepts that this policy applies a level of expectation and procedure which those who do not rent would not have to follow. It is our view that tenants should be treated equally and so it is openly acknowledged that this is less than perfect.
That being said - for many, many years - being allowed to have pets in rentals has been a strongly contested proposition, with little success. We believe this policy will work to prove that in fact, tenants are responsible pet owners and should have the right to keep their pets. This is a step towards the most ideal policy of: equality no matter if you are a tenant or not.
Please help us put an end to the senseless end of life and discrimination of tenants by joining our fight for tenant rights.