Shockingly – it’s estimated 19,879 family pets per year are surrendered to the RSPCA because landlords say NO. That’s the cruel reality behind renting with family pets in Australia.
This number does not include all family pets who were surrendered nationally. Many tenants are forced to surrender their family pets to other council pounds and animal shelters or choose to give them away to new owners using popular websites such as Facebook and Gumtree, where the future of their much loved family members can be uncertain.
Tenants do not make this choice easily. An unfortunate reality of renting in major cities and suburbs in Australia is that pet friendly landlords are in desperate short supply. Faced with the option of homelessness or surrendering the family pet, many tenants are forced into this horrible ultimatum.
Here at Harrods we love our pets, they are a part of our family and treated as such. So it was a huge shock when one of our pet loving team read these statistics from the Tenants Rights Party. One of our team works in animal rescue and has confirmed that many pets are simply abandoned when tenants move house, often cats. Just yesterday they received a call from a distressed member of the public about a couple of dogs that had been left behind in a house when the neighbours moved out four days before. Why would people do that? And why would landlords discriminate so much against pets?
We believe some of it comes down to a few bad tenants making it very hard for every other renter out there. If you have a child and it draws in crayons on the wall, you don’t surrender your child to foster care… you clean the walls and teach your child not to draw on them. The same goes for pets, it’s up to the owners to manage, contain and do behavioural work with their pets. There are horror stories of the damage done by pets to rental properties that makes many landlords very reluctant to take the risk of renting to pet owning tenants.
This risk can be mitigated somewhat by pet references and extra clauses in lease stating carpet cleaning and flea treatments must be done annually and at the end of a tenancy. Many estate agents will also ask for a pet bond. It’s not much more work on the part of the property manager to investigate potential tenants as responsible pet owners. Responsible pet owners will do what it takes to manage their pets and repair any damage eg. dog gets scared in a thunder storm and scratches at the door to get in, ripping the flyscreen. Flyscreen is cheap and easy to replace, a responsible pet owner would do it as a matter of course. The other option is to keep pets inside as much as possible, but the few landlords that allow pets often make it a condition of the lease that the tenants keep their pets outside at all times.
One of our team had a small dog she was looking after for a friend. The dog was kept outside, as per landlords instructions. The dog had separation anxiety and chewed the wooden and glass french doors that led into the backyard up to the height of a metre, which was impressive considering the dog was barely ankle height. The friend didn’t mention (or know) about the separation anxiety the little dog suffered being left in the backyard all day. The friend also evaporated leaving the favour giver a $1200 french door replacement bill. Needless to say it was the end of that friendship, but the tenant did not lose their bond!
Locking pets outside is actually counter-productive to protecting your property. With dogs this encourages barking, boredom and destruction. With cats increases the risk of wandering (and many councils now have a mandatory inside at all times regulations), getting into neighbours yards, getting into fights and more destruction of property. There must be a middle ground for tenants and landlords, where family pets do not need to be given away, surrendered or dumped at pound or the vets to be euthanased. One in five pets being surrendered are due to landlords saying no to pets.
If children are unable to fight for their rights and need adults to speak for them, so do our pets. To that end we fully support the push by the Tenants Rights Party to end discrimination against pet owners, the full article is here. We at Harrods would like to see more tenants and landlords supporting responsible pet ownership and promoting pet friendly housing.
©2016 Gina Brett for Harrods Real Estate