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Cat-astrophe for renter’s pets

Stray cat, Reid, who arrived at the Cat Protection Society. Photo: supplied.

BY JADE MORELLINI

The struggle is real for pet owners who are looking for a place to rent, with most landlords saying no when it comes to bringing their furry friends home.

Not only is this causing an emotional departure of beloved pets, but it’s causing animal shelters to fill up a lot faster.

CEO at the Cat Protection Society, Kristina Vesk said, “We’re a shelter for homeless cats and kittens and we get cats that are surrendered for many different reasons. One of the recurring themes is pet unfriendly accommodation which is where renters have to move and they can’t find anywhere that is pet friendly to rent.”

In a survey released by Rent.com.au, almost 50% of renters found it extremely difficult to find pet-friendly rental properties.

Trending now amongst renters is a pet resume, which provides renters with the ability to demonstrate that they are responsible pet owners who deserve to bring their furry friends along.

RENT chief executive, Greg Bader said, “50 per cent of all properties advertised for rent don’t specify if pets are allowed and 25 per cent say no pets. What pet resume does is it gives the renters an opportunity to start the dialogue with the property manager or a landlord.”

Pet resumes provide background information on the pets such as pet type, whether its vaccinated, if its trained, whether its indoor or outdoor and if they are well behaved. They can even get a reference from the vet and attach a photo so the landlord knows more about the animals and can make an informed decision.

“We’ve had a number of people call us and say that pet resumes work and has resulted in more landlords saying yes to owning pets which is fantastic. I think a lot of the time you just shouldn’t accept no, make a case politely with evidence and demonstrate that your pet is going to be a really good tenant as well,” Ms Vesk said.

Real estate agent, Byrony O’Neill told RENT, “We find that landlords are more willing to consider pets when they understand the personality of the pet and owner. Often, tenants with pets will go to extreme lengths to win over the landlord’s approval – writing long letters, sending pictures, offering for them to meet the pet.”

Pet resumes have been around for almost a year and just under 80,000 have been created. Despite this, there are still many landlords who refuse renters owning pets and this is causing problems that they may not realise.

At any given time, the Cat Protection Society has between 60-150 cats in custody, which works out to around 1000 cats and kittens a year.

“It’s a huge issue on several fronts, first it’s an issue for cats who aren’t being adopted or cats who have been very much loved and then are relinquished because their owners can’t find somewhere to live,” Ms Vesk said.

“There’s also harm to people because cats provide a lot of mental and physical health benefits and cat ownership is a very positive thing associated with many benefits for humans, so there’s a real loss on the human side as well.”

Not only is it causing issues for pets and their owners, but landlords may also be hurting themselves in the long run.

“With pet owners, they’re more likely to want to stay put, they don’t want to go moving all the time so pet owning tenants can be really good for landlords who just want a good tenant there for long term instead of having this constant churn of tenants,” Ms Vesk said.

Across Australia, pet ownership averages at around 50-60 per cent, but in renting, it is much lower at only around 30 per cent.

“Pet ownership in renting is well below the national average and we see a future where renters should have the same opportunity to own pets. Finding a rental can be pretty tough because automatically there’s a portion of the market that is not available to you, so anything that makes that process easier we are here to support,” Mr Bader said.

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