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Rental owners are people too and most love animals. That’s why they know the realities of pet ownership and what animals can do.

Liberal, Labor and the Greens have thrown landlords under the bus for their failures to provide sufficient housing for our growing population. Because of their failures, rental owners will have their fair rights further eroded as lawmakers try to solve their own failures with other people’s property.

Election annoucements by Labor and the Greens that they will force owners to accept animals in their rental property doesn’t come as any surprise, but the Liberals’ decision to strip owners of their rightful place in making this decision is a major departure from their previous commitments and Liberal values.

The Liberal Party was a rental owner's last hope for protecting the fair rights of rental owners. The Liberals’ promise to remove this fair right from owners means will mean that owners must accept animals in their property unless they successfully argue their case through the bureaucracy that their property is unsuitable for the tenant’s desired animal.

Being a rental owner comes down to risk management and owners must be empowered to manage their risks, especially in relation to animals given the significant and costly damage that can quickly occur.  

Most owners are like everyone else and love pets. Many have also been badly burnt by animal damage in the past and are unwilling to go through that heartbreak, hard work, and expense again. They know that if there are no animals on the property, the risk of animal damage does not exist.

If there are no dogs on the property, there is no risk of a sweet Samoyed chewing multiple timber windowsills and doorframes, and expanses of decking beyond recognition. There is no risk of this darling fluffball annihilating gardens and destroying external doors and hardwood floors with its persistent, relentless scratching, forever leaving their deep, deep marks.

If there are no cats on the property, new carpets cannot be treated as a scratching post by these adorable felines and ruined by their clawing and pulling, and soaked with urine to the point that only a full replacement and varnishing of the hardwood beneath to seal in the ammonia smell can correct the situation.  

If there are no dogs on the property, a third bedroom cannot be designated the indoor toilet by the tenant for their three large brutish dogs, and the owner cannot be hit by a wall of stench as they open the door after finally getting access to their property and break down in tears at what they see and smell.

If there are no dogs, rabbits or birds on the property, there is no risk of the owner opening the door of their property after it has been abandoned with over $9,000 in unpaid rent owed to find a dead dog, two dead canaries in a bird cage, and dead rabbit in a hutch all inside the property, having died from starvation after being left behind as the tenants scuttled off.

All these situations are true stories. All have happened here in Tasmania, and without the law in place that forces animals on owners. With the law changed to force animals on owners unless they jump through sufficient hoops to argue otherwise, instances like these are set to explode.

Of course, many pet owners are responsible people with well-trained animals. Many tenants will accept that the damage caused by their pet is their responsibility. Too many, however, are not responsible pet owners, fail to show respect for the property, and are unwilling or unable to cover the expensive cost of repairs that their pet causes.

Rental owners are people too and most love animals. That’s why they know the realities of pet ownership and what animals can do. By removing this fair right from owners, it’s only natural that more owners will remove themselves from rental ownership, thereby worsening the rental supply problem.

What lawmakers should be doing is encouraging more rental owners to accept the risk of animals by providing greater security. Through a pet bond, more owners will be open to the risk of animals, knowing that there is a bit more in the kitty for when kitty leads to inevitable costly repairs.

It’s easy for lawmakers to give away other people’s rights. They’re not the ones who have to face the day-to-day reality of their decisions. It’s not the party promise-makers or elected politicians who are opening the door to see the consequences of their decisions, it’s the owner. If Tasmania wants sufficient rental housing stock, fair rights for rental owners are essential. 




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