Australian state to allow pets in all rentals, but why not in New Zealand?

  • 09/10/2017
Cat, Australia
The Australian state of Victoria announced the reform over the weekend. Photo credit: File

The Victorian Government in Australia has revealed reforms that would allow all tenants of rental properties to have pets.

But in New Zealand, landlords have the power to determine whether tenants can have pets or not.

Wellington-based Renters United says the New Zealand Government should take the same approach as its Victorian counterpart.

"We would definitely support people having the right to have pets," Renters United's Robert Whitaker told NZME.

"It's very, very difficult for tenants to find a place if they have a pet and many landlords just prescribe 'no pets'."

NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King told Newshub that changes in tenancy rules had discouraged many landlords from allowing pets in their properties.

"Tenants are no longer responsible for accidental damage and that has meant that the responsibility for damage is now fallen on the landlord," he says.

Mr King adds the general feeling now is that the number of landlords that don't want to [allow pets in their properties] is greater than those that do and New Zealand landlords must operate under different laws than Victoria.

"[Landlords here] are actually responsible for our tenants' behaviour, as it affects the neighbours," he says.

"The pet might be fine and might not cause any damage, but if its barking, and if they're leaving the dog alone while they go to work and annoying their neighbours, we have a responsibility to do something about that."

He doesn't advocate a blanket rule allowing any tenant to have a pet at their discretion. 

"I definitely don't think there should be a universal rule that they're allowed," Mr King says.

"Given that we are responsible for the damage that these pets would cause, I think would be grossly unfair."

He says they'd be happy to discuss rules changes with the Government that would open up the possibility of more pet-friendly rentals.

"At the moment, you can't charge more than four weeks' bond, but if... you were allowed to have a pet bond, that could make up for the potential extra risk for more damage," Mr King says.