Victoria’s landmark rental reforms have passed Parliament and will come into effect from July 2020. A massive win for tenants in Victoria, the reforms focused on the ability of tenants to turn their leased properties into real homes by improving property conditions, housing security and allowing pets.
Pets will now be allowed in Victorian rentals by default, and landlords will require an official order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in order to refuse a tenant the right to own a pet
In Australia, the lack of rental accommodation allowing pets, or highly restrictive policies governing breed and size of dog, is one of the most common reasons people surrender their pets. In fact, a lack of rental accommodation for pets accounts for 20 to 28 per cent of dog surrenders and 36 per cent of cat surrenders. Furthermore, although 33 per cent of Australians live in rental accommodation, only 4 per cent of advertised rentals allow pets. Sadly, Research by the Australia Pet Welfare Foundation found that approximately 20,000 dogs and cats are euthanised in Australia each year because their owners could not find suitable rental accommodation.
The reforms have the potential to change these statistics, and improve not only the health and wellbeing of animals, but the health and wellbeing of their owners. Anneke van den Broek, founder and CEO of pet care brand Rufus & Coco, breaks down the benefits of the new rental reforms in Victoria, and why the rest of Australia should get on board.
“Pets are proven to be good for people both physically and mentally. It breaks my heart that pet parents are being forced to choose between having a pet and having a roof over their head,” says Annneke. “It just doesn’t make sense that our pet loving society is preventing pet ownership, and we’re asking landlords and property agents to think about the impact their decisions will have.”
5 Benefits of the new pet rental reforms
1. Pets improve mental health
Pet owners report less depression and appear to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-pet owners. Pets enhance social connectedness, social skills and are great conversation starters.
2. Pets are great for our physical health
Research has shown that owning a pet can have a number of health benefits. One study found that Australian ownership of cats and dogs saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over one year. Some of the physical benefits include Increased cardiovascular health, increased physical activity and fewer visits to the doctor. Walking your dog every day is an obvious contributor, but even the presence of a pet can be calming and beneficial to our wellbeing.
3. Happy tenants = Happy landlord
Knowing how challenging it is to find pet-friendly rental accommodation, tenants will likely have more gratitude for the landlord or property manager and will often stay significantly longer in the accommodation.
Pet owners’ studies have found that pet friendly houses have longer tenancy length, 4% lower vacancy rate, had more applicants and needed only 50% of the advertising spending and marketing of non-friendly houses.
4. Pets contribute to home security
Beware of the dog! Burglars want to avoid confrontation and attention, so having a noisy dog can be an effective deterrent and save your home from being broken into. Dogs are naturally protective of their space and there have been many documented cases where animals have even saved their owners lives.
5. Pets make people happier and more empathetic
A study of school children showed that pet owners are more empathetic towards others. Teenagers who own pets have also been found to have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness, despair and boredom.
3 reasons why the rest of the country should get on board
1. Thousands of pet lives will be saved
Research led by Emeritus Professor Jacquie Rand, Executive Director and Chief Scientist from the Australian Pet Welfare Foundation shows that approximately 20,000 dogs and cats are euthanised in Australia each year because their owners could not find suitable rental accommodation. Three thousand six hundred dogs and cats lost their life in Victoria because their owner was unable to find pet-friendly accommodation. The rental reforms in Victoria have the potential to reduce the loss of pet lives.
2. Pets reduce our healthcare costs
Research has shown that owning a pet can have a number of health benefits. One study found that Australian ownership of cats and dogs saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over one year.
Another report, ‘The Healthcare Economics of Pets’ determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year in reducing the number of doctor visits and associated health costs, such as fewer specialist appointments and hospital visits.
With what we know now about the health benefits of pets, many aged care homes, classrooms and workplaces are beginning to welcome pets. It is time they are welcome in homes across the country too.
3. Rejected pets cost the community
Estimates from The Animal Welfare League in South Australia put the cost of shelter care at $245 per dog per week. With preventative and veterinary care added on, the average cost to rehome a dog after just one week of care is $1056 (AWL, 2016).
It makes sense then for our government to focus on reducing the number of pets that end up in shelters and costing the community significantly. One US study found that 98% of a decrease in euthanasia in shelters and pounds was accounted for by the decrease in intake.
The Victorian government is saving pet lives and improving the quality of life of renters in their state, and they're changes we can get behind!
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