News: Tenants pushing to prohibit 'no pets' clause on rental leases

Published by ABC Online, 10 February 2017

It used to be children who were forced to ask adults for a pet in the home, but for millions of Australians, it is still a frustrating reality.

Those who rent often find themselves pleading and making promises before they can get a cat or a dog.

But in New South Wales, there is a growing push to change the rules so that landlords are prohibited from adding a 'no pets' clause to a rental lease.

Sydneysider Vidette Moore has three pets — a dog named Kiffy, a cat named Bowie and a rabbit named Scout.

She and her partner Nick Findlay own their own home now, but spent years before that concealing some or all of their pets from landlords and real estate agents at various rental properties.

"We don't have real human babies, so to us they're our family," Ms Moore said.

"When we move house, we have to take them with us. We would never send them to a pound or anything like that."

During some inspections, the couple went to extreme lengths.

"We just used to throw Bowie over the fence and pretend she was a neighbour's cat," she said.

"When the other two [pets] came along, we used to shove them into pet boxes into a car and then drive around the corner."

She said the couple did not have many options but to lie.

"There's not a lot of landlords out there who are going to be willing to give you a go."

Strict pet controls leading to overcrowded shelters

Ned Cutcher from the Tenants Union of New South Wales said it is a similar story for tenants in other states and territories.

"There's actually nothing in renting laws in NSW that says tenants need to get their landlords permission to get a pet," he said.

"But landlords tend to insert a clause into tenancy agreements that gives them that veto right."

Mr Cutcher said landlords should be prohibited from adding such clauses.

"There are already provisions in our renting laws that ensure that tenants are liable for any damage that their pets, their children, that their guests that they have around on a Saturday night might cause to the property — this should be a non issue".

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