Non-pet friendly rental properties should be banned in NSW
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Mr Matt Kean MP
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation
Suite 5, The Madison,
25-29 Hunter Street,
Hornsby NSW 2077
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this petition. It is a matter which is close to the hearts of many of your constituents, and Greater Sydneysiders.
We're no longer a city of homeowners and with a greater percentage of us choosing to rent over buy or being forced to rent due to the skyrocketing cost of buying a home in Australia's most well-known city, Sydney. Among households headed by Australians aged under 35 an extraordinary 63.4 per cent rent. (1)
From the last Census, in Greater Sydney (GCCSA), the percentage of people renting has increased to 31.6% in total, and the percentage of homeowners (with a mortgage) has dropped to around 35%. Back before the tax change that ignited negative gearing at the end of the 1990s around 40 per cent of households owned outright, and only 28% rented.
If we cast our eye North-West across the Indian Ocean, our Parisian friends with 12.2 million people (2) across 12,000 square kilometers (18.2 percent of the population of France) and experience housing which is 9% cheaper than Sydney (3), yet more than 60% of the population rent. Compared to Sydney's population of 5 million people (19% of the population of Australia) (4) across 12,367 square kilometres. The average two-person household income is similar to the two cities (5).
Looking closer at rental specifics between Paris and Sydney gives us an idea of how draconian our out of date our rental system is:
- Percentage of Renters - Paris: >60%, Sydney: ~31%
- Average monthly rental price of two bedroom apartment (city) - Paris €2,573 (AU$3,868), Sydney: AU$3,732 (3)
- Paris: 17 dogs per 100 people, Sydney: 20 dogs for every 100 people
- Paris: No discrimination against pets in rental properties; Sydney: Considerable, and aggressive stance towards pets in rental properties
Even though the two cities have very comparable statistics, one thing to note is that rental laws in Paris are about the comfort and enjoyment of the tenant. If that means that they have chosen an animal as a companion, then so be it.
The flow on effects in relation to animal shelters, animal euthanasia and Tribunal time.
The RSPCA has stated that "One of the common reasons people have to surrender their animals into the RSCPA is because they have to move to a place where they can't take their animal with them," said spokesman Matt French
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".
As it is, the RSPCA says strict controls on animals in rental properties are contributing to the number of pets who wind up at shelters.
"It's a really sad and tragic outcome for both the person and the animal."
Sarah Willsteed from The Entrance on the NSW Central Coast has started an online petition for the laws in the state to be changed.
"I think it's causing crowding in shelters and so many people are being put down because of it," she said.
Lying is common
Many Sydneysiders are forced to lie to their prospective landlords due to an overwhelming number of rental properties sporting the "no pets" ruling. With Sydney's rental population growing especially in the under 35 age group (currently at 63.4%), most pet lovers have to choose between their faithful companion and a roof over their heads.
Are we killing because of outdated rental legislation?
Of the 67,573 dogs that ended up at the RSPCA in 2010-11, 19,583 (about one in three) were put down. Many of these animals have ended up here because their owners have reached absolute frustration point of being turned down time and time again by landlords with "no pets" as the directive to the real estate agency.
My final word
I understand that for a landlord with an investment property that they simply want to lease it to someone who isn't going to damage it, and who is going to pay the rent on time. I get that. However, when we look at the statistics for Paris and Sydney in relation to pet ownership, the "no pet" ruling doesn't add up. It's out of date, draconian and "pet discriminatory".
Matt, I urge you to take this up with your colleagues for review of these laws to make it safer for animals who risk being put down because of callous laws.
Landlords already have damage clauses in their rental leases, surely these are sufficient to placate them on this issue.
After all, you too look like a dog lover (Matt Kean MP is featured in the main photo of this petition on Change.org). We'd love to have you on our side in this fight for equal rights as renters.
Outcomes we would like to see enacted
- We are asking that a term be added to the Residential Tenancies Act stating that no landlord can add a "no pets" ruling on rental listings, or give Agencies instructions to decline prospective tenants who own pets.
- We would like to make it against the legislation to ask prospective tenants if they have pets, and make it mandatory to include clauses in rental leases which state: "IF you are a pet owner, you must ensure that any damage caused by your pet(s) is fixed in order to return it to the pre-lease condition at the end of the lease."
Thanks for reading, and best of luck.
I am available for discussion on this matter on 04000077222.
(and all of the other animal lovers in Sydney who sign this petition)
1) 4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2013-14 -http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4130.0
5) Paris: €1,387 (AUD$2,067); Sydney: AUD$2,302 - http://www.xe.com
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