Have your say about keeping pets in rental homes

RSPCA NSW is encouraging animal lovers across the state to have their say about pets in rental homes.

Currently, landlords in NSW can refuse to allow a tenant to keep a pet without providing a reason unless it’s an assistance animal. With 70 percent of Australian households owning at least one pet, these current restrictions can present serious obstacles for renters and their companion animals, often resulting in traumatic and heartbreaking outcomes.

In other states and territories, rules have recently changed to make it easier for renters to keep pets in their homes. The NSW Government is giving NSW tenants, property managers, landlords, and anyone interested in this topic the opportunity to provide feedback through either answering a quick pollcompleting a short survey or writing a submission.

RSPCA NSW will be lodging a submission to voice why we think current rental laws need to change and encourage anyone who is passionate about improving human and animal welfare to also have their say.

Nearly 20% of surrenders at RSPCA NSW are from devoted pet owners who have had no choice but to give up their companion due to a shortage of pet-friendly housing.

“We know that circumstances like these are not a reliable indicator of a person’s capacity to love and care for their pet, which is why these laws need to be updated,” said RSPCA NSW Senior Manager of Outreach Programs, Dr. Ann-Margret Withers.

In addition to forcing people to part with their pets, the current rental rules in NSW are also a barrier for women leaving domestic violence situations, said Dr. Withers.

“One of the reasons that women delay leaving their violent relationship is because they have concerns about their pet’s welfare and don’t want to leave them behind. Our community domestic violence program helps combat this issue by providing temporary housing and care for victims’ pets, allowing women to prioritise finding safe refuge for themselves and their children. Our goal is to reunite survivors with their animals as soon as possible.”

Current restrictions not only place stress and hardship on pet owners but can also be detrimental to the safety and well-being of the animals in their care.

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A Golden Labrador puppy named Harvey was rescued by an RSPCA NSW inspector after being trapped inside a suitcase less than 50cm wide by his previous owner, in a failed attempt to hide the puppy during a real estate inspection. The suitcase had been dumped in the fire escape stairwell of the apartment and was discovered by a tradesman. Harvey’s owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty.

The sad reality is that Harvey’s case is an example of the unacceptable and desperate lengths some tenants will go to, in order to avoid the repercussions of lying to their landlord about owning a pet.

“Every day, our organisation supports individuals and animals who have been negatively impacted by rental restrictions. The NSW Government is giving us the chance to create positive change in this space, and we encourage anyone who has a spare few minutes to get involved and have their say,” added Dr. Withers.

“Never before has it been more important to be kind and compassionate to one another. These times are incredibly challenging, and our team is always here to help people and their animals, in whatever way we can.”

Public consultation for ‘Keeping Pets in Rental Homes’ is open until 5 pm, 2 December 2022. Those who want to have their say can do so by clicking here.