Cruel landlords cast pets aside

Karen Tierney with four-and-a-half month-old Rebel who is up for adoption at the Gympie RSPCA. The RSPCA say thousands of animals are surrendered every year because of tough landlords.
Karen Tierney with four-and-a-half month-old Rebel who is up for adoption at the Gympie RSPCA. The RSPCA say thousands of animals are surrendered every year because of tough landlords. Renee Pilcher

EACH year about 5000 pets are surrendered to Queensland animal shelters as a direct result of anti-pet landlords and corporate bodies.

New Gympie RSPCA shelter manager Vanessa Richardson said a shortage of rental accommodation and the corresponding increase in prices took its toll on pets.

"Landlords and body corporates are imposing more and more restrictions on potential tenants for the simple reason that they can," she said.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said there were very simple ways to ensure that animals and their owners did not abuse the property.

Simple agreements could be drawn up and he advised pet owners looking for accommodation to make certain they had written references attesting to their pets' behaviour and cleanliness.

"Landlords can arrange an interview with the animal and family so they can see for themselves the animal is safe and clean and the owners responsible. But generally people who look after their pets are more likely to look after the property."

The problem was statewide, Mr Beatty said.

The irony was that a recent study showed "pet-friendly" apartments and townhouses sold for up to 25% more than non-pet-friendly real estate.

"We would urge landlords to have compassion. Many families are devastated when they have to give up beloved pets that have been part of the family for years."

The Investor Club, which manages more than 17,000 properties in Australia, says buyers and tenants are not aware of their rights when it comes to having pets.

Karen Horsfall said buyers could easily challenge draconian measures to completely ban pets.

"By-laws that prevent an owner or tenant from keeping any animal, even something as inoffensive as a single goldfish, are unduly and not reflective of Australia's love for animals. Tenants and buyers need to be aware that bodies corporate cannot absolutely prohibit the keeping of any animal in any circumstances."


How to negotiate:

Know your local council restrictions;

Seek permission first; the body corporate must be fair and reasonable;

Check clauses in your lease agreement;

Check with the owner.

Topics:  cat dog landlord pets property rent

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