Why tenants MUST have the right to keep family pets

Shockingly - it's estimated 19,879 family pets per year are surrendered to the RSPCA because landlords say NO. That's the cruel reality behind renting with family pets in Australia.

99,399 family pets (dogs and cats) were surrendered to the RSPCA last year. In Victoria alone, 1 in 5 surrendered pets were attributed to the landlord saying NO to pets, according to RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr. Liz Walker. Source.

This number does not include all family pets who were surrendered nationally. Many tenants are forced to surrender their family pets to other council pounds and animal shelters or choose to give them away to new owners using popular websites such as Facebook and Gumtree, where the future of their much loved family members can be uncertain.

Tenants do not make this choice easily. An unfortunate reality of renting in major cities and suburbs in Australia is that pet friendly landlords are in desperate short supply. Faced with the option of homelessness or surrendering the family pet, many tenants are forced into this horrible ultimatum.

As at July 2016, Australia's major cities and surrounding suburbs had the following amount of "pets allowed" rentals, as compared to total available rentals: Sydney (2%), Melbourne (1%), Brisbane (8%), Darwin (5%), Perth (4%), Adelaide (4%), Hobart (12%) and our nations capital Canberra (6%). Source.

For many tenants renting rather than buying their own home is not a choice. The Housing Affordability crisis in Australia see's more and more tenants priced out from ever saving the deposit required to enter their own home.

The RSPCA do a fantastic job of finding a new, loving homes, for the vast majority of surrendered pets. However, the toll on individuals, families and children when being forced by landlords to give up on family pets is devastating. For most, pets are loved and cared for just as much as any other member of the family.

What kind of lessons are we teaching our children and future generations to come by showing such cruelty? Is the irrational objection by landlords worth more than demonstrating love, care and appreciation for life?

How we can expect as a society to have compassion for one-another when we are willing to give up on our family pets at the request of someone less caring?

Why are family pets such a big issue for landlords?

Many landlords would argue that family pets put the state of the rental at risk, due to damage the pet may cause. But can the same not be said of any occupant?

Landlords may ask for a bond, often totaling in the thousands, to protect themselves against damage and loss of income. They also have insurance products available to them in the event of damages exceeding the bond amount.

Landlords and agents also have access to TICA, a national database of tenants who they warn should not be rented to. They are also allowed to carry out regular inspections to ensure damage is not occurring.

Landlords should take a bond, take out insurance, check tenant rental history and lookup the tenant in TICA as a precaution to any tenancy application.

Pets should hold no bearing on the application, as there is no further risk to the landlord for allowing pets. There are also council laws and strata rules which disallow certain pets, depending on location and other factors.

Landlords are simply taking it a step too far by imposing their own ideals and beliefs on tenants.

Please help us put an end to the senseless end of life and discrimination of tenants by joining our fight for tenant rights.

Please read about our National Tenancy Body, Anti Discrimination and Housing Affordability campaigns. We need you to join the fight for tenant rights!

31 Responses

  1. Jo Lancaster
    I'm a pensioner whose been renting the same property for over 4years, but now the owner wants it back. I've had 2 look 4 new accommodation. I have a 3kg desexed dog whose NEVER been a problem & has her own fantastic references as I do. My current r/e agent who I've rented on & off from since mid 90's refused 2 rent 2 me 'because I have a dog', they actually told me that on more than 1 occasion . As there's NEVER been any issues in the past with said agent, I can imagine my disgust with their attitude. After I complained, they offered me 1 house at $380/wk but they know I only get $500/wk so this of course was another flick of the nose 2 me....wen the property came down 2 $360/wk I applied 4 it, but I had 2 compete now, they told me they had heaps of applicants 4 it. The other r/e in town rang me out of the blue the other day & offered me a house because they 'could c by my application that I was a great long term tenant with fantastic references' & that they 'wanted me as a tenant' & they even negotiated a lower rent 4 me with the owner. I feel in light of the way the 2 agents differ in their treatment of me that my original agent has discriminated against me because I have a dog & this kind of treatment should not b allowed. I also have doubts as 2 whether any of my applications actually even went 2 the property owners. There's no guarantee that the 3-4page application, which takes a long time 2 complete & had a lot of personal information, doesn't go straight into the bin as soon as I walk out the door, especially if u have a dog or the property manager takes a dislike to u.
  2. Fee
    I have a 9 year old cat whom I love dearly but has had to be left at my parents place until further notice which is heartbreaking. We are renting and when we applied the owners said yes, body coporate said no! When asking again the owner changed her mind and said she didn't want to go against body coporate rules however so far I have spotted 3 different dogs in our buildings!! It's so crap!! I almost want to bring her in and if there's a rental inspection hide her!
  3. Dirtyredfox
    I've worked as an Adjudicator for the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management in the past and made legally binding orders in many pet disputes. I recall that a law was brought in many years ago stating that body corporates can no longer have a blanket 'no pets' policy. Each case must be considered on its own merits. As for owners having it easier than renters. ..this is also untrue (in the case of persons living in a body corporate). It is illegal to discriminate between owners and occupiers so all residents must follow the same by-laws regardless of whether they own or rent. By-laws cannot be upheld if they arbitrarily disallow pets. Of course none of this applies to private rentals outside of a strata titles scheme. Not sure if outright landlord refusal to accept pets has been tested in the non-body corporate context. Most tenants don't question their agent or body corporate manager. I'd certainly challenge a real estate agency who tried to enforce such a draconian 'no pets' policy (especially where a landlord has consented)! Don't ever assume that just because an agent says something that it's correct. Despite often thinking they know it all, what property managers don't know could fill a warehouse.
  4. Name*
    It's not always the landlord. When organising for my property to be leased, I indicated that I would like to allow tenants to have a small dog or cat (the property is a smallish unit) but the real estate had a no pets policy for the properties they manage.
  5. Anne Dempsey
    We are in Sydney NSW and have been tenants where we are currently for almost 13 years, a period after which you would think we had proven to be responsible. We have asked on several occasions for our landlord to reconsider allowing us to have a pet to no avail. I even put in a written submission last year pleading our case and our commitment to remaining responsible tenants and the response was that being dog owners themselves they were aware of the damage pets can cause like scratching at doors etc so no. The house we live in is quite run down and old and needs a lot of repair so I don't get their reasoning. I feel sad that my children have missed out on the valuable opportunities and life lessons that being a pet owner can bring and I live in hope that the tenancy laws are amended to have the no pets clause in NSW leases banned as I think it's discriminatory.
  6. Jess hagley
    A bad tenant will be a bad tenant regardless of whether they have pets or children. It all comes down to having respect for other people and their property. My dog has utterly destroyed any garden I had in my back yard and my cats have clawed the heck out of my carpet. Thankfully I own my home however had it been anyone else I would still be of the belief that these things happen. Gardens can be replanted, fur can be vacuumed and carpets cleaned. The love and joy that pets bring is worth more than those things.
  7. Emma
    I had to give my dog away when I was 14 because my parents divorced and mum couldn't find a new place to take him with us. I grieved for years, he was my best friend. I will never forget it, children especially need to be considered here. I also met a guy who needed counselling as an adult as when he was a child his parents gave away his dog after it had "been bad" and he was forever scared they would give him away too if he was bad. Pets are family members to most of us. I am now a dog behaviourist and try to prevent this happening as much as possible. I wish I could write "referrals' for dogs that would be accepted!
  8. Jessica
    I'm a Property Manager and have been for 10 years. Unfortunately this does not only relate to dogs but children also I have had to reject many applications because landlords were definite they did not want children doing damage. most of the damage caused is not from animals but from children. I would rather choose a single adult with a dog over a single adult with a 3 year old. Unfortunately landlords will reject your application because of your race, religion, even if you have a great reference and income. It's sad but that's really how it is
    • Dirtyredfox
      Totally illegal...not just sad. Property managers should be required to mandatorily report landlords who discriminate. Our last PM freely told us that the only reason we secured our last property was because the previous applicants had 2 boys under 10 and the landlords feared damage! It's very condescending to parents and carers. Are we all unable to discipline and control our children?
  9. Jenni
    There must be some way to have pet bond & references, to make home owners more comfortable with allowing pets. I know of a landlord who only advertises pet friendly rental and therefore is able to ask good money, but this is unfair to the average income earner. Although I would pay what I had to ..and never give up my furkids, There has to be a better way!
  10. Adrian Horne
    This is a serious situation that many people don't think about. I came close to having to lose my snowdogs to get a home and I'm fortunate enough to be alone with no dependents to be homed quickly. I accept it may make landlords think twice because a dog/dogs can be destructive, smelly and noisy, but if landlords word their paperwork appropriately with some details of 'return to state at occupation' it could be easier than a basic 'NO PETS'. People nowadays can be at a level of desperation to re-home that their pets are the last consideration, that pressure needs to be relieved and animals saved x
  11. Ann
    I rent and have 2 std poodles. It was really hard to find a new property, as I also have full care of my granddaughter. I would not surrender my fur kids as they were there for us after my husband died. We both lost so much I could never let them go. It was hard but we found a property that allowed us our dogs and thankfully we are happy here.
  12. Judith
    As a previous landlord I've always had 'pets negotiable' as part if my conditions of lease (after all, a duplex is hardly the place for 3 large wolfhounds). In fact, if it were possble to advertise 'no children', I would've had less damage to my property than any dog could've made. I do prefer that dogs have had basic obedience training, but this isnt able to be a stipulation. As for landlords 'changing their minds' after a lease has been signed - as far as I'm aware, the lease and its conditions are binding on BOTH parties at the time of signing, so this is a breach of lease conditions in which the tenant should be entitled to compensation or to break lease without penalty. I'd check with your state's Tenancy Tribunal for advice before doing anything that might cause long term heartache like off-loading the furriest member of your family.
    • Deb
      People do advertise *no children* in the UK! Many rentals you can't have kids, dogs, smoke, receive any sort of benefits.... I only have dogs, but that's hard enough!
  13. Carolyn Kennedy
    I am renting and the landlord has seen my dog out the back. I have been hiding him so the landlord has been watching from out the front of the house and looking over the fence 3 mornings this week to see if I still have a dog. I feel like my privacy has been invaded and need to find somewhere else to live. I will not give up my fur baby.
    • They can not do that it is illegal !
      They can not do that it is illegal !
  14. Jacki
    I've rented with dogs and I've rented a property to people with pets. The only time I've even had damage done to any property I owned was when some PERSON smashed windows, ripped the letterbox & did other damage because I wouldn't reduce the rent after they lit a fire in the backyard and destroyed the shed...... LOL Give me dogs without people and I'd rent to them any day!
  15. Katrina
    I have lived in 5 rental properties now with my 8 year old dog. In every house, we had to accept a house that didn't suit our needs perfectly but we had to apply because there is no way we would surrender our dog, ever. My dog is small, non-shedding, very quiet and gentle and the only damage ever caused to any houses, was accidental damage by myself or my partner, never our dog, haha.
  16. jules
    Yes we had same problem, we moved in with the dog being told it could stay, then the landlord changed her mind just to be "powerful" after a few months ...the house was immaculate at inspection but she said she could smell carpet deodoriser to "cover the smell of dog" the Tenant advice line said using deodoriser should have been seen as a positive. I ended the lease and moved out. I spent 10 years in NSW trying to find pet friendly, moved to SA so I didn't have to give up my dog, in ALL cases my houses were immaculate but the landlord got paranoid and said I had to get rid of the dog for no real reason.
    • Jasmine
      My ex-landlord tried to do this to me too and I fought it. I got a dog to help with my depression and when they decided (for absolutely no reason too) I kept fighting them on it because I had all the correspondence in writing. I ended up winning and got to stay and keep my fur baby. Unfortunately they made life had for me in every other way possible so I had to leave. It's disgraceful that landlords can get away with it
  17. Adrian
    A pet is no different from a tenant - if the animal is clean and house trained there should be no issues. There's also claw caps available that stop them scratching the floors/furniture.
  18. Tegz
    If you lie to have a pet at your rental home, and it goes unnoticed by the real estate/landlord, then it goes to show that the risk of pets doing damage is very minimal indeed!!
    • Lily
      Exactly. I have a golden retriever which I had to lie about to get the property I live in. I've been living here for 4 years, and during inspections I have a friend take him for a couple of hours. I wouldn't give him up for the world.
  19. Deirdre Danks
    I am a landlord and I believe tenants should be allowed to have their beloved fur babies with them when they rent. I offer my rental stating "pets welcome". I would never want to be separated from my beloved dogs.
  20. Chantal
    Just left a rental property that told us we could have our dog then 1 week after we signed the lease the owner decided to impose a no pets policy. Even tho we offered references on how well behaved, all his training certificates and a pet bond (part of lease we already signed a damage clause for the fish tank) they still refused. So we were stuck in a property we no longer wanted! No way were we giving up our boy. Lucky we have now found a property that was more than happy to have our dogs. Landlords dont ever meet you or your pet so why should they be allowed to have such power!
  21. Brittany
    My partner and I have had some trouble in the past getting a house because of the "no pets" nonsense. Some people really don't understand how much a pet can mean to someone. At the end of the day, if the tenant is up front and honest about damage, and pay for the damage they cause, pets should be allowed just as much as a human being. At the end of the day, it's the tenant that should be punished for letting the damage happen, not their pet.
  22. Karie Siemsen
    I have had a brilliant rental history for the last 10yrs. Up until last year I had a dog who I had for 13yrs. I spent the 10 yrs renting refusing to surrender my dog as she was my best friend and had helped me get thru the effects of cancer, depression and just being there when I needed her in return I cared for her when she went deaf and then blind. Out of 7 houses that I rented only 3 allowed me to have her, the others I lied too after offering a pet bond and being refused and 1 house I was evicted after the landlord found out I had a dog living in my fully concreted backyard. I have written references from 3 real estates stating the wonderful condition the property has been left in, all from ones that knew I had a dog and 2 references from ones who had no clue a dog had ever lived on the property yet when I had to move house last year for my kids schooling we were knocked back on 24 houses because I stated we owned a dog but the 1st application I submitted that didn't state I had a dog was excepted the same day I handed it in. It's a joke I am willing to extra to have my dog which would easily cover the cost of an insurance claim if need be but I still get knocked back. People should not have to lie or surrender any pet at all just to get a place to live if they are willing to pay a petbond.
    • Jasmine
      This is absolutely disgraceful!!! The reasons for having a dog - especially the reasons you have mentioned - should be taken into account too. I have a dog for depression and so many landlords think it's a farce and say no. :(
    • cbsmum
      My Maine Coon X male cat is nearly sixteen. I found it impossible to rent through a real estate in Toowoomba with my cat so I advertised in the local paper before I moved from Ipswich. I had two phone calls from owners and choose the one with security screens. I lived there for seven years with no problems what so ever. My landlady was fantastic and when I was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to have double doses of radiation treatment I put my cat in a cattery where he knew the owners. We were separated for eleven months. It's my belief that pet owners are more responsible because we all know how difficult it is to rent a property with a pet. My ex landlady gave me an absolutely awesome reference. I rang to thank her and she said ' well it's all true M you are the best tenant I have ever had. I was in my present unit for nearly twelve months when all of a sudden my beloved old cat was to be outside only..... The RE knew that he was inside all his life so I appealed. They got in touch with the owner they said and all was good. When I first applied for the property it was stated Charlie Brown was to live inside and was accepted. I knew they didn't have a leg to stand on. I was prepared to fight and the vet offered to have my boy there for a few hours. I will never ever give him up. He's always been there for me and knew I was seriously ill before my doctor or myself. I'm half way through paying off the cattery bill but to me having brain cancer is no excuse to surrender my best friend. He's my last cat because of my severe health problems.
  23. tahlia
    Hi had to rehome companion animal because landlord decided after 12mths animals were not aloud he made no noise nothing was most heartbreaking thing to rehome him
  24. I currently have a mortgage and have a dog, however, if my situation changes I may have to rent instead and there is no way I'm going to separate from my beautiful dog.
    I currently have a mortgage and have a dog, however, if my situation changes I may have to rent instead and there is no way I'm going to separate from my beautiful dog. I think there has to be a review of rental properties allowing pets. I believe that so many rental properties allow kids instead of pets and yet kids can seriously destroy rental properties more so than pets.

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