Every day RSPCA Tasmania receives a call from someone who is homeless, or about to become homeless, with their pet.
- Tasmania has historically low rental vacancies and only one in eight landlords allow pets
- RSPCA says Tasmania fails to recognize animal welfare is also about human health
- After years of lobbying for reform of the law, the government says it is ready to review the situation “immediately”
Things have been bad for several years, but with the cost of rent rising and vacancy rates at an all-time low, more animals are also becoming victims of the state’s housing crisis.
“We are seeing a huge increase in people under housing stress, people who are between houses or unable to get a rental home with their pets,” said RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis.
“People find it almost impossible to secure a rental at the best of times, but it’s certainly impossible with animals.”
Hobart resident Chris Bailey is one of those people.
Their lease is up in two weeks, and when that happens, 34-year-old Scrambleshanks and his nine-year-old cat Scrambleshanks will be homeless.
“It’s hard trying to find something that’s suitable, affordable and close to where I work, plus I have a cat,” Bailey said.
Mr. Bailey has a casual job and is currently building an RV capable of being towed behind his bike.
He is also considering purchasing a houseboat to give him and his cat alternative housing options.
“I think (pets) add color to the world, and I couldn’t imagine a situation where I wasn’t around her,” she said.
Only one in eight rentals currently advertised in the Hobart metro area will consider people with pets, and renters need landlord approval before moving in if they want to have an animal.
“You need permission to keep any kind of pet, whether it’s a cat, a goldfish or a hermit crab,” said Tasmanian Tenants Union solicitor Alexander Bomford.
“The owner can refuse it without having to give any additional reason, except if it is a guide dog or a service animal.”
Tasmanian laws lag behind
Several groups have called on the Tasmanian government to bring the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 in line with other states such as Victoria and Queensland, and increase the right of tenants to keep pets.
“In Queensland and Victoria, owners can only refuse an application for a pet if it is reasonable…for example, if the title deed does not allow it or it is a horse in a one-bedroom apartment,” Bomford said.
“Pets are our family and we expect them to be treated as members of our family, and our regulatory environment in Tasmania has not kept up with that.”
“Tasmania has failed to recognize that animal welfare is not just about animals, it’s about humans and these are human and human health issues as well as animals,” said Ms Davis.
“Other states have moved much faster to acknowledge that.
“In Queensland and Victoria and the ACT, the default position in the rental law is that you can keep a pet unless the rental court has a specific case saying you can’t for whatever reason.”
The worsening rental crisis has reignited calls to allow pets, with charities such as the RSPCA and Dogs Home of Tasmania seeing an increase in the number of pets being given up.
“About 15 percent of the dogs that are turned over to us are solely because their owner has been unable to find a rental property,” Dogs Home of Tasmania chief executive Michael Sertori said.
“Fortunately, we are here to find a forever home for that dog, but it remains unfair and ridiculous in these modern times.”
Government willing to consider reform
Despite repeated calls over the years for reform of the law, the government has said it supports the current provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act, which requires landlord approval to keep pets in rental properties.
Consumer Affairs Minister Elise Archer said on Sunday that she was now ready to review the laws “immediately”.
“It’s about balance most of the time, but I’m very open to seeing this because I know how important it is for people to have their pets because they are great companions and in fact sometimes someone’s best friend,” she said. . she said she.
“Most owners are very reasonable, I’m very willing to look into this and look at the pet bonus issue as well.”
Ms Archer said the pet bonds would potentially give owners more confidence regarding the pets on their properties.
Michael Sertori said he applauded the minister’s response, saying “up to this point there had only been silence.”
“It’s wonderful that the Tasmanian government can finally take the lead on this issue, but they need to act quickly because the situation is not getting better, it’s only getting worse,” he said.
Temporary shelter an option
In the meantime, there are a number of charities providing support for anyone experiencing the stress of renting with their pet in Tasmania or struggling to pay vet and food bills due to cost of living pressures.
RSPCA Tasmania and Dogs Home of Tasmania can provide temporary animal housing if the pet owner needs more time to find a suitable home.
“We have worked with a number of people where we cared for the animal until they settled down and then returned their pet to them,” Ms. Davis said.
Dogs Home behavior trainer Michelle Jones urged people to seek help.
“Contact your local charities and organizations,” he said.
“There are many of us who want to help you and help your dog stay in your home.”