Rental changes mean people can keep pets

A WIMMERA real estate agent believes the state government should put more money into public housing, rather than changing renting policies.

The state government has unveiled a tenancy reforms package, which will see a raft of changes for both renters and landowners.

The changes include limiting rent increases to once a year, new restrictions for ending leases, allowances for owning a pet and allowing tenants to make minor modifications to properties. 

Bonds will be capped at one month’s rent and the government will also ensure faster release of bonds at the end of a tenancy. 

Horsham’s PRD Nationwide principal Wes Davidson said the changes would be at the detriment to investors.

“We need more public housing – that’s where the money should be spent,” he said.

One of the major changes in the reforms will be that renters will be able to keep pets.

Landlords will still need to provide consent for pets, but they will only be able to refuse in certain circumstances.

Mr Davidson said most landlords were already flexible on the issue.

“If it’s a cat or a canary, most people don’t have a problem with it,” he said.

“However, if someone doesn’t want animals in their property, that’s their prerogative. This will be one of the biggest challenges for landowners.”

Mr Davidson said overall the changes gave too much protection to the tenants and didn’t support investors.

“The government do not supply enough public housing and rely on ‘mum and dad’ investors to provide rental properties across the state,” he said.

He said the changes would make it tougher for those investors. 

“The changes are not well thought out – it is a vote grab for the government,” he said.

However, Horsham People for Animal Welfare and Support president Carolyn Stow believes less pets would be abandoned in the region because of the changes.

She said renters not being able to keep pets created a massive problem in the Wimmera.

“This will reduce the amount of animals that are coming into the pound and re-housing program,” she said.

“When people have to move, they find that none of the rental properties will take pets.

“People don’t want to give up their pets but when they have to choose between that and a roof over their head, it creates a problem.”