Uncertainty Surrounds NSW’s Proposed Pet Rental Reforms

There are concerns regarding the implementation of one of Labor’s primary election pledges aimed at simplifying pet ownership for NSW renters.

The proposed policy would allow all renters to request permission to have a pet in a leased property, with landlords required to respond within 21 days. Landlords would also be obligated to provide a reason for their denial, and if they fail to respond within the specified timeframe, the renter’s request would be automatically approved.

Better Regulations Minister Anoulack Chanthivong faced numerous questions on Wednesday about when the legislation for this policy would be introduced; however, he was unable to provide a specific timeframe.

“I think our intention is to introduce this as soon as we can, but hopefully, it will be by early next year,” he told the committee.

Mr. Chanthivong explained that the government was currently reviewing the 16,000 responses, including 400 written responses, from a survey released in August 2023.

“The rental commissioner has asked me for a little more time to process the substantial number of responses,” he added. “What we aim to achieve is to strike a balance because it can be a somewhat divisive debate.”

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst stated that limitations on pets in rental properties also contribute to homelessness rates, especially for those leaving situations of domestic violence. She emphasized that consultations had also been conducted with the RSPCA to ensure that animal welfare remains a top priority.

“This is a significant problem in the context of domestic violence, where people struggle to find suitable accommodation,” she remarked. “Shelters and refuges are inundated with surrendered pets due to the difficulty of securing rental properties. I am left wondering why this has not been prioritized and expedited.”

Ms. Hurst also questioned why further consultation was deemed necessary, especially when a survey conducted by the former Coalition government found that 87% of over 18,000 respondents believed that it should be easier for renters to keep pets in their homes.

In addition to facilitating pet ownership for renters, the government is also in the process of developing a portable bonds scheme. Effective from August 3, landlords and agents are prohibited from advertising properties within a specific price range or including terms such as “offers from” or “by negotiations.”

Furthermore, real estate agents, assistant real estate agents, landlords, and digital rental application providers will be prohibited from demanding higher rental amounts, with violations resulting in fines of $550 for individuals and $1100 for businesses.

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