Tenants in South Australia could soon have the right to own a pet under rental reforms proposed by the Malinauskas Labor Government.

The reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act will see the government consult on a bill which would see that a tenant who applies to keep a pet in a rental property cannot have their request unreasonably refused, provided the tenant agrees to comply with any reasonable conditions imposed by the landlord.

Peter Malinauskas, Premier of South Australia, said it is heartbreaking that some South Australians have been in a position where they have had to choose between having a roof over their head and giving up a beloved pet.

“That’s why our government is acting decisively to make housing more accessible for all South Australians including those with pets. My government is supporting tenants while balancing the interests of landlords.”

Marcus Gehrig, Chief Executive of RSPCA SA, said the number of pets being surrendered to them because of rental stress has tripled in the last three years.

“The impact of surrender of a much-loved family pet is tragic: for the family having to give them up; for the animal who suffers from the separation and anxiety; and even for our frontline staff who are daily faced with very distressed humans and animals being separated through no fault of their own.”

Gehrig said that residential tenancy laws have not kept up in SA in the way they have in other states.

“Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the ACT have amended their rental regulation to help more pet owning renters find a home. In these states, renters must still seek permission from the landlord to have a pet and remain liable if the pet causes damage – but blanket ‘no pets’ clauses are prohibited.”

Andrea Michaels, Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, said they know how difficult the rental market is for people right now, with a record low vacancy rate and even less of those homes being available to people with pets.

“The current laws mean vulnerable people are faced with the devastating options of homelessness, remaining in homes where domestic violence is present or sleeping in their cars unless they surrender their pets.

“It is, of course, a balancing act and we want to make sure that while tenants are protected so too are landlords. Tenants will be liable for any damage caused by pets and will have to comply with any reasonable requirements from their landlord such as keeping certain pets outside and having the carpets professionally cleaned before moving out.”

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