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Do we want a right to companion animals?

By johnboy - 3 August 2008 85

It’s a subject dear to my own heart at the moment, and something that’s increasingly coming up in stories posted by other users.

Body corporates and lazy property managers are imposing blanket bans on companion animals (aka pets).

It’s a problem that, for once, actually can be dealt with by legislation.

So here’s the deal.

I, personally, will preference any candidate at the upcoming election promising a right to reasonable companion animal ownership, one which overrides any body corporate agreement or lease condition, ahead of all other candidates.

Anyone else with me on this one?

A right to reasonable pet ownership in rental agreements and body corporates

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85 Responses to
Do we want a right to companion animals?
Kitty7 6:17 pm 03 Aug 08

As you can probably tell from my name, I am a cat lover. People can be pretty emotional when it comes to pets and rentals/body corporates. They can also have differing views of what is reasonable. Some dog owners may feel that their dog is part of their family and that it is reasonable for the dog to be confined to a tiny backyard in a townhouse complex. Or that their small dog can be inside a small apartment all day while their owner is at work. Without stimulation, these animals will often bark when their owner is out, thus disturbing the neighbours. The neighbours may not see this as reasonable.

I would consider it reasonable (and responsible) for cat owners to keep their pets inside so that they do not kill native wildlife. If living in apartments the owners of any pet should make sure that the smell is not disturbing the neighbours. I think that is the key word. If the pet is not ‘disturbing’ anyone, then it would be reasonable to have that pet in the complex. It is when the pets disturb other residents that it is a problem. Unfortunately, not all pet owners are responsible.

There have been topics about people having problems with noisy neighbours ie pets, music etc on this site often enough. What I have seen is that people have very power to do anything about problem pets. I think the rules for body corporates could include the option for pets as long as they don’t disturb the neighbours. If there are complaints, the resident would have the chance to improve the situation. If neighbours are still being disturbed then the pet should go. If you just allow people to have pets in apartments, rentals and townhouses, then it would be too hard to get rid of the problem pets. One of the advantages of body corporates is not having noisy pets in yards that are too small to be fair to the pets. Dogs need space to run and play. Cats don’t care too much where they are, as long as they can sleep in a patch of sunlight!

simbo 6:04 pm 03 Aug 08

I think it’s reasonable for landlords to have a right to choose to accept animals or not.

However, the issue of bodies corporate being allowed to preclude animal ownership (or not) is a bit more complicated – I actually own my own unit, but I still couldn’t necessarily get a companion animal due to body corporate conditions imposed on my block (I’d need approval from the board – admittedly, from my examinations of how the board worked the last time I went to an AGM, I could probably get ON the board remarkably easily, but … not the point!)

pelican 5:58 pm 03 Aug 08

When I rented I made a decision not to have a pet as I did not want to risk any damage to the owner’s house and not being financially well off at the time did not want the worry of paying for any damage. Rather not have to worry about it as much as I like animals. Now in my own house we have two cats.

Personally I think a landlord has the right to choose to accept animals or not. It is their property and if they don’t want to take the risk of an animal destroying carpets, curtains, whatever then that is their right. This should be clearly stated upfront though so prospective tenants can make the decision to rent knowing all the details.

dlm 5:51 pm 03 Aug 08

I’d strongly support this. There is a robust tradition of using ‘reasonable’ in this sort of legislation, and a well-established mechanism for determining what this means in practice through appeals against decisions, etc. Once I know who my local candidates are, I’ll put this to them.

Jonathon Reynolds 5:51 pm 03 Aug 08

I have said it before and I’ll say it again… I own two indoor cats. As much as I love them dearly, and frequently have to forgive their unfortunate but often trespasses, they do and are actually causing long term damage to my property. But as I own my own place, and I take full responsibility for their actions.

If I were letting my place as a landlord, I would ensure that there is a clause in my lease documents that ensures that the tenant can not keep pets of any kind. Not negotiable, End of story. If any potential tenant doesn’t like it then they can go an find somewhere else to rent. The real world is indeed a harsh place.

The issue with Bodies Corporate (plural?) is a difficult one. What constitutes “reasonable” in terms of companion pet ownership? Until someone is prepared to clearly explain the definition of reasonable in unambiguous (plain English) terms, I would strongly oppose the the notion of the government (or any potential candidate) interfering with the current legislative arrangements.

johnboy 5:31 pm 03 Aug 08


Now we come to the truth, you don’t want it to happen, not that it can’t be done.

Fair enough, that’s what democracy is supposed to be about.

In the not very distant past landlords could knock back tenants for being gay or aboriginal too.

Duke 5:25 pm 03 Aug 08

My point is that no Government should have the right to tell the owner of a house/flat they MUST allow an occupant to have a pet. A landlord decides who are the best occupants for his/her premises, end of story.

el 5:17 pm 03 Aug 08

With you 100% on this one jb.

And suggesting that apartment blocks are going to suddenly be ‘full of dogs of all sizes and breeds’ is just as silly as the other straw-man arguments above.

johnboy 5:16 pm 03 Aug 08

Also I’d say that reasonable would include provision for additional pet-bonds and even pet-surcharges.

johnboy 5:12 pm 03 Aug 08

It wasn’t a threat of moderation, it was promise to consider your opinions in low regard.

By saying reasonable it means I acknowledge there is a need to have limits (in fact existing companion animal legislation already has a great many of these).

It is not beyond the wit of humankind to address these when drafting the legislation.

Now you want to use some doubt as to reasonableness to push for a continuation of a blanket ban.

This suggests to me that your argument might not be completely honest.

To say that because you are unsure as to how many cats your neighbour might choose to have is justification to stop her having any cats at all is to simply suggest you are against her having cats.

Duke 5:06 pm 03 Aug 08

Still waiting on your idea of reasonable johnboy. Define your argument before you threaten me with moderation – you want this to be legislation remember – a German Shepherd in an apartment for example?

Perhaps a maximum weight for apartment dogs would be a good start.

johnboy 4:58 pm 03 Aug 08

Clearly ignorant of the long and noble use of “reasonable”.

I’ll be sure to bear that in mind in future when assessing anything else you have to say.

I think we can all agree that ponies in apartments are un-reasonable.

Which is why I put that word in there.

Also ponies are not companion animals. Another carefully chosen phrase you seem to have missed.

Duke 4:54 pm 03 Aug 08

……..glad you brought it up, coz I wish to stable a pony in the spare bedroom of the house i’m leasing, which sounds perfectly reasonable to me……..

johnboy 4:48 pm 03 Aug 08

Gee because no other policy proposal has ever relied on the catch-all of reasonable?

Oh wait, actually a great many have.

Anyway, you’re agin it, fair enough.

Duke 4:46 pm 03 Aug 08

Nope, it’s a completely crazy suggestion Johnboy, particularly as you have not stated what you believe reasonable companion animal ownership to be.

Cat ownership in apartments is probably workable, but can you imagine apartment blocks full of dogs of all sizes and breeds? The smell, mess and damage would have to be dealt with and paid for by all apartment dwellers regardless of their animal ownership status.

Perhaps instead of pets, people could try their hand at, I dunno, human companionship?!

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