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overcoming the rental crisis

Several years ago PIAS, through the Australian Companion Animal Council, undertook a survey of pet ownership in rental accommodation. The results indicated that less than 10% of real estate agents had a formal policy towards pets, with few residential tenancy agreements even mentioning them. So while nearly two-thirds of Australian households include pets, only a few seem to be actually permitted to keep them in a rental situation. PIAS believes the benefits of pet ownership should be available to everyone, not just people who own their own home.

Locating pet-friendly rental accommodation can be a frustrating process, with so many properties not permitting pets. A new on-line service is available that gives pet owners the ability to quickly search for pet-friendly rentals listed on the major real estate sites such as domain.com.au or realestate.com.au, greatly increasing the chance of finding a suitable property. The site also provides a range of other resources and helpful information to assist pet owners locate and attain appropriate accommodation.

Property managers and landlords select prospective tenants from a pool of applicants but this process shouldn’t necessarily discriminate against pet owners. If you can prove you are a good tenant and a responsible pet owner, you are more likely to be considered. A good past record of paying the rent on time and references that include your pet will obviously help.

The brochures Landlord's Guide and Renting with Pets, produced by the Australian Companion Animal Council, provide information that is relevant to each state and territory in Australia. They provide information to help landlords, managing agents and pet owners overcome the issues associated with pets in rental accommodation, including a sample rental agreement.

And finally, remind the owner or managing agent that a well-managed pet-friendly policy can actually help improve profitability, broaden the pool of prospective tenants, lower vacancy rates and reduce tenant turnover. Permitting one tenant to own a pet does not mean that all tenants will be allowed to own pets – clear guidelines and policies on the keeping of pets can help property owners and agents to carefully screen out irresponsible pet owners.

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