NSW Labor unveils plan to help tenants have pets in rental properties

Home Politics NSW Labor unveils plan to help tenants have pets in rental properties
NSW Labor unveils plan to help tenants have pets in rental properties

Arabella Harvey-Walker is on the hunt for a new home in Sydney’s inner-west, but she’s struggling to find a place that will let her pup Penny come with her.

Currently in NSW, landlords can decline a tenant’s request to have pets in their home without a specific reason, and do not have a prescribed time frame in which to consider a request.

They are also able to list a blanket ‘no pets’ rule before considering a tenant’s application.

“A lot of places immediately say no to pets and it’s without even knowing what she’s like,” Ms Harvey-Walker said.

“I obviously understand that for a lot of landlords they obviously want to keep the place in top condition for all of their potential clientele, but I would still like to have a place because she provides me with so much support.”

Ms Harvey-Walker had to move further west than she wanted, but her rental period is ending and she’s desperate to keep Penny with her.

“I love her, she’s part of the family, I wouldn’t want to live without her.”

a young woman holding onto a dog outside at a park
Arabella Harvey-Walker says her dog Penny provides her with support.(ABC News: Bridget Murphy)

Changes to rules regarding pet ownership in rental properties are under the microscope by the both the major parties ahead of the March election.

On Sunday, NSW Labor unveiled a policy to streamline the application process for renters with pets.

Falling under the jurisdiction of a proposed NSW Rental Commissioner, who would oversee the rights of renters overall, the change will introduce a form for tenants to lodge with their landlord.

A detailed response will be required within 21 days, and if the renter has not heard from their landlord in that time, their request will be automatically approved.

“There would be a process where the owner of the property can object to having a pet on their premises and it will be a situation where it is not guaranteed that you can have a pet on the premises,” Labor leader Mr Minns said.

“We’re not saying in every circumstance and in every situation the renter would be able to have pets on their property, but it will be far easier in New South Wales with this proposal.”

a dog drinking from a bowl at a park with other dogs standing behind
NSW Labor says their policy does not guarantee that renters can have a pet on the premises.(ABC News)

Census data shows that more than 2 million people in NSW are renters, and the Tenants Union says the number of renting households has increased by 17.5 per cent since 2016.

The proposal from NSW Labor follows Queensland’s lead where renters can apply and must receive a detailed decision from their landlord within a fortnight.

The Perrottet government says similar changes are already under consideration.

“This proposal by Labor lacks detail and provides little clarity to both tenants and property owners on how it will work in practice,” Minister for Fair Trading Victor Dominello said in a statement. 

“The NSW government is currently running a consultation process in relation to the keeping of pets in rental properties.  

“We will have more to say in due course, however any changes must balance the rights of both tenants and property owners.”

Ms Harvey-Walker says she thinks the changes could help but isn’t convinced that more landlords will say yes.

“I don’t think it will work, but it’s a step towards something that could be better. It’s a step in the right direction of allowing people to have their pets as part of their family.

“I wish I could tell landlords that [Penny] is not aggressive, she’s fully trained, you know we have taken care of her to the point where we are able to say that with full confidence.

“This new implementation would allow us to have those discussions.”

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