Sunday, May 19, 2024

Law change gets pets out of the rental dog house

The Government has today announced changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to give tenants with pets greater choice when looking for a rental property.

It’s estimated that around 64% of New Zealand households own at least one pet, and 59% of people who don’t have a pet would like to get one, said Housing Minister, Chris Bishop.

“Pets are important members of many Kiwi families,” said Mr Bishop.

“Anyone who has ever tried to find a pet-friendly rental property will know how hard it is, so we’re going to make it easier.”

Regulation Minister, David Seymour says the new policy will fix the problem of tenants being locked out of rental markets due to landlords not being willing to take a risk on tenants with pets.

“There are tenants out there who would be more than happy to pay a little extra in order to live in their preferred home with their very good boy,” he said. 

“More landlords would be willing to allow pets if they could protect themselves from some of the risks.

“This policy is also important for helping victims of domestic abuse move on with their lives. Often, people stay in relationships to look after pets and become stuck. Helping these people find rentals that are accepting of pets will allow them to move on safely and have a brighter future.”

The legislation delivers on a commitment in the National-ACT coalition agreement, intended to make it less difficult for tenants to have pets in rental properties.

“Supporting people to find a pet-friendly rental home is part of the Government’s plan to create a well-functioning rental property market, which itself is part of the wider plan to solve New Zealand’s housing crisis,” Mr Bishop says.

“I’m pleased with the changes that we’re delivering here, as we make progress on addressing housing issues for people across the country.”

The changes to the legislation include:

  • Introducing a pet bond (set at a maximum of two weeks rent) that can be charged in addition to the existing bond;
  • Making tenants liable for all pet damage to properties beyond fair wear and tear. This means a tenant is fully liable for any accidental or careless damage caused by pets, as well as any intentional damage;
  • Requiring that tenants may only have a pet or pets with the consent of the landlord, who can withhold consent on reasonable grounds. 

The Government will introduce an Amendment Bill in May to make these changes, alongside other changes to the Residential Tenancies Act announced previously.

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