Friday, 20 February 2009

My dog, my pet, my property, my responsibility - paws off

We work for the rights of responsible pet owners to live a normal life.

We've had a lively conversation here about public access rights for pets on PUBLIC transport.

Let's look at renting with pets.

In Australia, there are commonly used tenancy agreements claiming to be prepared in accordance with tenancy law. From my research, I can't ever see this premise being tested.

In NSW, these agreements state that an animal or bird can not be kept at the premises UNLESS PERMISSION IS OBTAINED. (No such clause is in the legislation). Think about this. The law gives the tenant full right of access to the property as long as they pay rent, act legally and behave.

Dogs are chattel - full stop. In other words, they are no different than a handbag, briefcase or a pair of shoes. So why are renters are being told to ASK and OBTAIN PERMISSION to live with their dog or cat? Legally, it is the same as having to ask if we can have a pink handbag with matching pink shoes in the home we are renting.

What's chattel? Chattel is an item of personal property which is movable. It can be bought, owned, sold and stolen. The dog or cat is owned in law by its owner or politically correctly, its guardian. Because Barking Mad works with responsible pet owners, we will presume that we all legally own our pets meaning we register them as required by our local regulatory authority.

SO HOW CAN A RENTAL AGREEMENT REQUIRE YOU TO OBTAIN PERMISSION TO HAVE A DOG - OR, THE LEGAL EQUIVALENT, A PINK HANDBAG AT YOUR HOME?

I ask for your thoughts - and please consider the following:
  • Residential tenancy laws hold the tenant liable for damages they cause - from pets, kids, parties, accidents or negligence.
  • Dog laws hold the owner responsible for actions of a dog.
  • Nuisance laws cover bad bahaviour, which may include a barking dog.
  • Animal protection laws cover cruel pet behaviour, such as keeping too many animals or not providing adequate care. (Isn't is cruel to deny housing to a responsible pet owner?)
  • Strata laws require a 'good reason' to deny keeping a pet. An example of a good reason would be a strata complex for people with asthma where someone wants to keep a cat.
  • Rental laws do not have this 'good reason' logical clause.

5 comments:

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Pets as chattel (meaning non-human animals) has pros and cons.

Those people who use Barking Mad as forum fodder will have difficulty with this.

People who work in animal welfare WANT non-human animals including pets, native animals and those we breed to eventually sit in pieces on our dinner plate, to have intrinsic rights in law. This is a compelling argument and is supported by Barking Mad.

As we represent pet owners and not animals per see, pets as chattel is in our favour. We focus on the rights of people in a pluralistic society.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it up to the owner to decide who they let their property to and what conditions?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Anon: yes and no. If it were entirely a private contract between the owner and the occupant (tenant), then the conditions would be fully negotiable.

But in Qld, residential rentals come under the Residential Tenancies Authority, in NSW, home rentals come under the Residential Tenancy Act and similar in other states.

Using Qld as an example:
The Residential Tenancies Act outlines the rights and responsibilities of tenants and property managers involved in private residential renting.

The Act sets out what the parties can and cannot do; how to address issues and provides a way to manage either party breaching the provisions of the law.

So, even though you own a property and rent it out, there is a state law that prescribes HOW you will deal with what some would see as a private transaction.

Shelly said...

I'm not sure I understand you Eedra. I owned a property in Queensland and I let it out. I specified that pets were negotiable, and I ended up having a family with a dog and a cat living in the property. It was my own decision as a landlord to allow it.

We should respect the rights of the property owner/landlord to specify if they want pets living on their property or not. It's their choice because it's their property.

I think it's sad that more rental properties aren't pet friendly, but we still need to respect the choice of the property owner.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Shelly, I would like to see a choice of pets/no pets excised with good reason. An owner does not have full choice over a property they rent. It has to be fit for habitation (as defined in law), have a smoke detector, appropriate security/locks etc. The first and last condition are subjective; that's why they are defined in law.

With respect to a property owner, I still ask how they can prohibit a legal activity (owning a pet). It's pushing the edge, but I am trying to generate new thought here, not just history dictating the future.