Pet owners being discriminated against?

vetboy1 21 May 2009 22

I have just stumbled across an earlier post about companion animals in rental accommodation and think it is about time something was seriously done about this issue.

I am a Veterinary Surgeon and have been renting for a number of years. For years I have been desperate to start a “dog” family but am unable to because of ridiculous by laws set by by increasingly militant strata groups.

Despite many appeals to strata and landlords alike, and logic not prevailing, it seems even a Vet is unlikely to be a responsible pet owner and the process has always met with a resounding NO.

Whilst I am fully aware that most strata organisations are toothless tigers, what is unfortunately in their capacity, is the ability to make your rental record look like absolute rubbish which will make further rental near impossible.

I am not schooled in law, but I believe that there it would not be unreasonable to suggest that this form of rental restriction is a form of unfair discrimination and if pressed in a court of law, could a precedent be set upon which this ridiculous trend of no pets is binned for ever?

I totally agree with all the earlier respondents and clearly this “law” has been established due to poor behaviour by previous pet owning renters.

However, it is by no means a difficult task to come up with a fair and reasonable act that allows pets and protects landlords simultaneously. By constructing a law that provides certain criteria and checks and balances, I believe a balance could be struck between successful responsible pet owneship and the ability of a landlord to rent his/her property out in the knowledge that any damage caused by human (or animal) will be accounted for and remedied (pet bond).


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22 Responses to Pet owners being discriminated against?
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djk djk 4:58 pm 21 May 09

AG Canberra said :

Friends of ours have just leased out a house and they had a strict no kids policy….

Not sure if this was toungue in cheek or not, but certainly raises an interesting point.

Kids or animals would likely do a similar amount of damage to a property, but I dont think I have ever seen an ad saying “no groups, no pets, no kids”.

That would seem much more likely to gain the ire of A Current Affair et al.

Slight derail, but isnt the whole rental process about discrimination anyway? – Agents/landlords picking people who basically they think will look after the property the best, or conversely will damage it the least. Eg. older couples, professionals, no kids, no pets, non smokers, etc.

screaming banshee screaming banshee 4:15 pm 21 May 09

Jim Jones said :

vandam said :

I agree, however also agree that what ever damage pets do, ie garden, carpets etc etc, that should be paid by the pet owner.

And a bond should remain as a deposit rather than being money that owners can take to repaint the house etc. House upkeep/repairs should be accounted for in the rent price.

My point is that the rate of wear and tear is much greater with pets…and kids too but I didn’t want to drag that into the discussion.

If you were prepared to acknowledge that wear and tear increases with pets would you then be prepared to pay a higher rent for the same property than someone without pets (or kids)

I actually rented a property for 6 months with my two dogs and in that time the walls of the laundry in which they slept were completely ruined by the dogs regularly rubbing against them and I had to repaint those walls before I left the property.

Fortunately for me the owner’s agent was not too concerned about the myriad of yellow stains and dead grass in the backyard and scratches on the rear deck but they would have been quite within their right to request that I rectify or deduct costs for repairs from my bond.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 3:29 pm 21 May 09

vandam said :

I agree, however also agree that what ever damage pets do, ie garden, carpets etc etc, that should be paid by the pet owner.

And a bond should remain as a deposit rather than being money that owners can take to repaint the house etc. House upkeep/repairs should be accounted for in the rent price.

Well, yeah. That’s the way that it works already.

vandam vandam 3:13 pm 21 May 09

Jim Jones said :

screaming banshee said :

As a potential pet owning renter would you be prepared at the end of a lease to cover the costs of repainting the house and recarpeting or polishing the floor and making repairs to outdoor areas that may have been damaged by your pets waste or activities.

Repainting the house???

I think you might be overreacting just a tad here.

Renters are responsible for leaving a property in the same condition in which they entered it (with the obvious caveat of ‘ordinary wear and tear’ added).

What’s wrong with that?

I’ve never understood the naked hostility towards animals. Most people will be careful about the space in which they live, and those who don’t have this tendency are going to be crap whether they have pets or not – that’s why renters have regular inspections.

I agree, however also agree that what ever damage pets do, ie garden, carpets etc etc, that should be paid by the pet owner.

And a bond should remain as a deposit rather than being money that owners can take to repaint the house etc. House upkeep/repairs should be accounted for in the rent price.

AngryHenry AngryHenry 2:40 pm 21 May 09

Yeah! Inspections…

I’d be prepared to cover the cost of anything either I or my pet damaged in the house outside ordinary wear and tear. Which I think would go the same for someone who’s kid decided to draw with crayons all over the walls, or stained carpets because of their waste or activities.

At the risk of offending some parents out there…

When it comes down to it there’s not that much of a difference between kids and pets in this situation.

orangegirl orangegirl 2:37 pm 21 May 09

screaming banshee said :

djk said :

As a potential pet owning renter would you be prepared at the end of a lease to cover the costs of repainting the house and recarpeting or polishing the floor and making repairs to outdoor areas that may have been damaged by your pets waste or activities.

Isn’t this the whole point of asking for bond?

Jim Jones Jim Jones 2:02 pm 21 May 09

screaming banshee said :

As a potential pet owning renter would you be prepared at the end of a lease to cover the costs of repainting the house and recarpeting or polishing the floor and making repairs to outdoor areas that may have been damaged by your pets waste or activities.

Repainting the house???

I think you might be overreacting just a tad here.

Renters are responsible for leaving a property in the same condition in which they entered it (with the obvious caveat of ‘ordinary wear and tear’ added).

What’s wrong with that?

I’ve never understood the naked hostility towards animals. Most people will be careful about the space in which they live, and those who don’t have this tendency are going to be crap whether they have pets or not – that’s why renters have regular inspections.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 1:57 pm 21 May 09

I never had any issues with getting rental places with pet dogs. In fact at the last place I rented – a weatherboard three bedroom in Turner – I think that the managing agent had more of an issue with it being a group house rather than the fact that we had two malamutes.

screaming banshee screaming banshee 1:43 pm 21 May 09

djk said :

You will be happy to know that with the new Unit Titles Amendment Act that came into force on ~31 March 2009 actually covers this.

51A Animals—owners corporation’s consent
(1) A unit owner may keep an animal, or allow an animal to be kept,
within the unit or the common property only with the consent of the
owners corporation.
(2) The owners corporation may give consent under this section with or
without conditions.
(3) However, the owners corporation’s consent must not be
unreasonably withheld.
Note An owner or occupier of a unit may apply to the ACAT to resolve a
dispute with the owners corporation about keeping an animal, or
allowing an animal to be kept (see s 123).
(4) In this section:
animal includes—
(a) an amphibian; and
(b) a bird; and
(c) a fish; and
(d) a mammal (other than a human being); and
(e) a reptile.

Note that it is unit owners that this refers to.

Having seen what additional wear and tear pets can cause to a property I find it completely reasonable that the owner of a property should be able to decide whether they are willing to have pets or not.

As a potential pet owning renter would you be prepared at the end of a lease to cover the costs of repainting the house and recarpeting or polishing the floor and making repairs to outdoor areas that may have been damaged by your pets waste or activities.

AG Canberra AG Canberra 1:13 pm 21 May 09

Friends of ours have just leased out a house and they had a strict no kids policy….

AngryHenry AngryHenry 1:05 pm 21 May 09

I know kids that do substantially more damage than pets, I’ve never seen a dog writing with crayons on the wall or trying to put toast smothered in jam into a VCR.

You should have to microchip and register those little buggers.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 12:51 pm 21 May 09

By constructing a law that provides certain criteria and checks and balances, I believe a balance could be struck between successful responsible pet owneship and the ability of a landlord to rent his/her property out in the knowledge that any damage caused by human (or animal) will be accounted for and remedied (pet bond).

Nice in theory, but I can imagine a lot of disputes as pets can do a lot of damage, and bonds don’t go very far at all when it comes to trashed properties.

Not all pets are destructive, and ideally landlords would take the pet’s nature in account case by case, but owners must have the discretionary power to decide who/what resides at their property.

orangegirl orangegirl 10:47 am 21 May 09

I wonder if it is a Human Rights issue? Maybe someone can think of some argument under the Human Rights Act? I identified these two sections as possibilities:

11 Protection of the family and children
Note Family has a broad meaning (see ICCPR General Comment 19 (39th session, 1990)).
(1)The family is the natural and basic group unit of society and is entitled to be protected by society.
(2)Every child has the right to the protection needed by the child because of being a child, without distinction or discrimination of any kind.
Examples of distinction or discrimination
Distinction or discrimination because of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status.

12 Privacy and reputation
Everyone has the right—
(a) not to have his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence interfered with unlawfully or arbitrarily; and
(b) not to have his or her reputation unlawfully attacked.

The Residential Tenancy Act is not very helpful. It sets out 100 terms that all agreements must contain. Any other terms must be agreed to by both parties. The act says a person cannot be coerced into signing an additional term, but this is kind of toothless considering the power imbalance between the parties, and the fact that the discrimination happens before the agreement is ever signed.

I can imagine the outrage if there was an agent who had an openly acknowledged policy of refusing to rent to families with children.

fnaah fnaah 10:26 am 21 May 09

Crustaceans and insects, too. Yay for pet lobsters!

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 10:16 am 21 May 09

When I was looking to rent some years back, I was appalled by the numbers of private owners who advertised as suitable “family” or even “families only”, but had “no pets” clauses.

caf caf 9:59 am 21 May 09

It looks like pet spiders are exempt, you can have as many of those as you want.

pinklink pinklink 9:40 am 21 May 09

RSPCA CEO Michael Linke here.

RSPCA is continuing to work with the industry to improve opportunities for people to live in rented accommodation with their pets. We have developed a guide, see our web site and the links and resources section for dog owners (http://www.rspca-act.org.au/pages/images/dogs%20in%20apartments.pdf). We are currently developing a similar guide for cat owners.

The change in the unit title legislation signals a change in attitude and one can hope that this will meld its way into other forms of rented accommodation.

RSPCA’s interest is always the welfare of the animal, so landlords need not worry that RSPCA will “push” and “force” the argument of pet owners if we believe the living arrangement for the pet is unsuitable.

Michael

djk djk 9:26 am 21 May 09

Whoops beaten to the punch.

With regards to renting with pets, I dont really see it as being discrimation. There are obviously issues that go along with pet ownership that may not be wanted by the landlord. It is a bit like allowing smokers or not to rent your property – you own it, so you can decide.

I do feel for those are trying to rent with pets though, my own experiences weren’t that great when trying to do it. Fair to say we settled on a few less than perfect houses as a trade off for being allowed pets.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 9:23 am 21 May 09

Yes, but it looks like the Unit Titles Amendment Act covers body corporates.

Does the act extended to rental properties?

djk djk 9:19 am 21 May 09

You will be happy to know that with the new Unit Titles Amendment Act that came into force on ~31 March 2009 actually covers this.

51A Animals—owners corporation’s consent
(1) A unit owner may keep an animal, or allow an animal to be kept,
within the unit or the common property only with the consent of the
owners corporation.
(2) The owners corporation may give consent under this section with or
without conditions.
(3) However, the owners corporation’s consent must not be
unreasonably withheld.
Note An owner or occupier of a unit may apply to the ACAT to resolve a
dispute with the owners corporation about keeping an animal, or
allowing an animal to be kept (see s 123).
(4) In this section:
animal includes—
(a) an amphibian; and
(b) a bird; and
(c) a fish; and
(d) a mammal (other than a human being); and
(e) a reptile.

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