South Australian Pet Owners Set for Rental Rights Boost

South Australian Pet Owners Set for Rental Rights Boost
A cat waiting to be adopted looks out of its cage at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Shelter and Veterinary Hospital in Sydney, Australia, on April 1, 2020. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

Renters in South Australia (SA) would no longer have to choose between keeping a roof over their heads and giving up a pet under proposed law changes.

The state’s government on Sunday announced it will consult on a bill to include a presumption in residential tenancy laws that a renter who applies to keep a pet cannot have their request unreasonably refused.

Tenants would be obliged to follow any reasonable conditions set out by the landlord, including keeping the pet outside if not the type usually kept inside and having carpets professionally cleaned at the lease’s end.

It is estimated 68 percent of South Australians own pets but fewer than 20 percent of rental properties advertise that they are allowed.

The RSPCA suggests owners being unable to find a pet-friendly rental property is behind one in five animal surrenders.

Rental stress has contributed to the RSPCA’s pet surrender numbers tripling in the past three years and tenancy laws in SA have not kept up with other states, the group’s state chief executive Marcus Gehrig said.

“Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the ACT have amended their rental regulation to help more pet-owning renters find a home,” he said in a statement.

“In these states, renters must still seek permission from the landlord to have a pet and remain liable if the pet causes damage—but blanket ‘no pets’ clauses are prohibited.”

The proposed reforms are similar to those introduced in Queensland, where renters must still seek permission from their landlord to keep a pet and are liable if it causes damage.

Landlords retain the ability to knock back a request if they have a justifiable reason such as the property lacking suitable space or fencing, to adhere to council requirements or if the pet presents a risk to public safety.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the changes would mean South Australians won’t have to sacrifice their pets to avoid being homeless.

The SA government is also planning to increase the minimum notice to end a lease from 28 days to 60 days to give tenants more time to find a new rental and require landlords to provide a prescribed reason to end or not renew a periodic tenancy agreement.

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
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