A particularly confronting question spotted in a rental application has shocked many Australians, with some suggesting it highlights the imbalance of power between landlords and renters in the country despite recent changes to laws around pet ownership and rental properties.
While applying for a property in Victoria, under a section relating to pets, one woman was faced with the rather callous question, "Would you consider rehoming your pet?"
Despite it not being compulsory to answer, it left the renter feeling uneasy, especially given they were applying for a house with a yard.
"Applying for properties and i’m in actual shock that this is a question???" they posted in an online rental group, alongside a photo of the offending section of the application.
"Unsure why they couldn’t accommodate a pet," she added.
Most Australian households have pets
Approximately 69 per cent of Aussie households own pets — among the highest in the world — with dogs being the most common at 48 per cent, followed by cats at 33 per cent. However according to the RSPCA, one in five animals are surrendered due to the owner not being able to find a rental property that accommodates pets.
Many thought a rental question like this suggests a person's chances of securing the property decreases if they answer no, believing it shouldn't have been asked in the first place.
"That’s so f***ed up," one person commented. "Landlords gain nothing by prohibiting people from living normal lives.
"At best, it encourages tenants to lie on the application. Encouraging tenants to rehome their pet (or alluding they have a better chance without the pet) simply invites dishonesty and for good reason.
"Everyone should have the right to enjoy a pet. I also strongly believe that children cause more damage (I have both)."
Overwhelmingly, others agreed. "Whoever designed their application form is bordering on psychotic," one person commented.
Laws around pets and rentals in each Aussie state
In Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory and ACT, residential tenancy laws were amended to help pet owners find rentals. While people in those states have to seek permission from the landlord to house a pet — unless its an assistance animal — and are liable if any damage is caused to the property, 'no pets' clauses are illegal.
And if a renter is refused for owning a pet, the landlord must have a justifiable reason, such as a property lacking suitable space or fencing or the animal being a risk to the public.
South Australia followed suit this year in June, with 68 per cent of people owning pets but less than 20 cent of rental properties being advertised as allowing pets.
However NSW still lags behind, allowing a blanket 'no pets' rule when listing rentals, and landlords not having to provide a reason for refusing a tenant for having a pet — something the Tenants’ Union thinks is "a breach of [a renter's] reasonable peace, comfort and privacy," according to their website.
The NSW government is reviewing public feedback about the current rule, with a poll on their website showing 87 per cent of people thought it should be easier for renters to keep their pets in their home.
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