A new amendment to the Strata Schemes Management Act last week has allowed apartment dwellers across NSW to welcome pets into their homes.
The change comes after years of controversy and court battles between pet owners and landlords wishing to ban any animals in their buildings. Disputes have been prevalent within the city fringes, where an influx of private rental, high-density dwellings has forged tension between tenants and landlords.
Cat Protection Society of NSW CEO Kristina Vesk thought the amendment was years in the making.
“I think we have over the past 10 years, and … in recent years, that there is a trend towards more pet-friendly accommodation,” Vesk told City Hub.
“Most people, certainly the people that we’ve dealt with over the years who’ve had trouble, have been fantastic people, really good pet owners, and it was just pure discrimination that they were excluded from housing.”
The granting of pets in apartment buildings across the state comes as another wave of tenant empowerment against landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereby inflated vacancy rates and property oversupply has created a favourable climate for renters.
Strata committees have consequently offered stronger conditions and cheaper rent to pique consumer interest. Vesk contends that opening buildings to pets is part of the compromises surrendered by landlords in the past 18 months.
“Landlords are realising that pet owners, responsible pet owners, good pet owners, make really good tenants,” Vesk said. “They’re good people … why would you exclude them from the market; it was kind of self-defeating.”
Still seeing exclusion
Accommodations taken for pets in recent years has resulted in formalised processes that have created accountability for each party contracted to the lease.
“We’ve had lots of clients have great success, providing pet resumes to prospective landlords and also a … draft pet agreement, that is ‘this is what I will do, this is my pet … they’re desexed and vaccinated and I undertake regular parasite treatment’,” Vesk said.
Whilst the private rental market has become pet-friendly, Vesk contends companionship exclusion is ongoing in other areas of the sector.
“There are still a lot of housing options that are closed to people with pets … in particular emergency accommodation [and] temporary accommodation,” she said.
“We really need to work on that, because it does put people in danger if they have nowhere to go.
“They’re not willing to give up their dog or cat, and rightly so because that animal has been their best friend who’s been their support.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but I feel a bit optimistic that times are changing [and] understandings are changing.”