SMH ; Eleanor Ainge Roy; October 24, 2011
BRENDAN LEACH has made a lot of compromises for his dog, Sophie. The 31-year-old has been looking for a rental house for the past few months but his furry friend has made it tricky.
”I would definitely have found a house already if I didn’t have a dog,” Mr Leach said. ”It’s unfair because humans are worse than animals at wrecking places.”
But Mr Leach and Sophie may have a few more options if a motion put forward by the Willoughby Council’s Companion Animal Advisory Committee is adopted.
The motion proposes the introduction of pet agreements between landlords and tenants, the introduction of pet insurance policies and a pet bond, which would be paid in addition to the regular bond.
”We’re conscious that a high number of pets are being impounded and there are a lot of healthy pets being euthanised, ” Jeff Knight, an administrative services manager at Willoughby Council, said.
”Our information is that as a general rule most rental agreements have a no pet policy, especially in apartments, and we want to see this relaxed if possible.”
But Ned Cutcher, a policy officer from the Tenants Union of NSW, says a pet bond runs the risk of discriminating against pet owners, and the Residential Tenancy Act is sufficient for tenants and landlords to form an agreement.
”It’s been a long-held view of ours that it’s not fair for a grown-up to have to ask another grown-up if they can keep a pet,” Mr Cutcher said. ”If we go down the road of landlords requiring a pet bond it could lead to landlords asking for a children’s bond, or a mother-in-law bond …”
Dogs NSW has been campaigning for 20 years for landlords to relax their restrictions on pets in rented homes, and spokesman Peter Higgins says the proposed pet bond was a ”step in the right direction”.
”There is no doubt that the role of pets in society has changed over the last 10 years,” Mr Higgins said.
”A lot of young people have dogs instead of babies and you can’t be judgmental about that if the pet is one of the major points of their love and affection.
”With elderly people in particular their pets are often their best friends and it’s almost cruel for the owner not to allow the pet to move in with them.”