National Report Highlights the Benefits of Pet-Inclusive Housing

According to a new report – ‘Housing and housing assistance pathways with companion animals: Risks, costs, benefits and opportunities’ study –  of those who’ve had to give up a pet to keep their housing, 52 per cent are tenants and 40 per cent are home owners.

The report undertaken for AHURI was conducted by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Western Sydney University, University of South Australia, Curtin University, Adelaide University and The University of Sydney.

The report found that:

  • Despite more than 60% of Australian households having a pet, policies remain restrictive across many housing sectors in Australia
  • The rental market is the most restrictive – an estimated 15–25% of cases where families have had to give up pets are related to rental mobility and pet restrictions
  • Property damage by households with pets is no more likely than for households without pets
  • People living with pets in unsafe and precarious living situations such as domestic violence, or homelessness, need more flexibility over pets if they are to find safer housing for themselves and their families.

‘Our research finds that some housing tenures are more progressive than others, and even home owners can face restrictions in what pets they can have’, says lead researcher Professor Wendy Stone from Swinburne University of Technology, in a press release issued last week.

‘For example, strata title regulations across the country empower housing complexes that use strata title rules to determine whether pets are permitted. However, legislation is gradually changing across the country with a recent ruling in Victoria stating that pets cannot be unilaterally banned.’

In general, tenants in the private rental market face the strongest restrictions, says the report, with NSW, WA and SA legislation giving landlords the right to freely determine whether a property will consider renters with pets or not. In Victoria and the ACT the residential tenancy laws require that landlords do not unreasonably refuse tenants’ requests to keep a companion animal.

‘While landlords frequently cite concerns about property damage for refusing pets, there is little evidence to support this’, says Professor Stone.

‘There are mechanisms, such as insurances and ‘pet bonds’, available to manage risks, and these costs are currently borne by tenants. Indeed, there is some evidence that pet-friendly rentals return higher rents and are leased more easily than equivalent quality properties that do not allow pets.’

Openly providing pet-friendly housing also directly addresses issues with illegal pet keeping. When pets are kept illegally, landlords and owners’ corporations are less able to regulate or monitor companion animal practices, for example, through requiring bonds or including property cleaning and maintenance requirements in property agreements.

You can download the full report here

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