Leading animal welfare charity Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) is calling on the Australian federal government to take a national approach to securing pet friendly rentals amid a historic housing crisis that is causing people to choose between their pet or a home.

“It’s already harder to rent due to the rental and housing crisis and even harder to rent with pets, causing people to have to choose between their much-loved companion animals and a home,” said Trish Ennis, CEO of Australia CAN.

Formerly Animal Welfare League Australia, Australia CAN represents the companion animal welfare work of six member agencies (NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, WA and TAS) that provide rescue, shelter, re-homing, fostering, health care and enrichment services to more than 50,000 animals every year across Australia.

“Our members are reporting far too many pet surrenders solely based on rental and housing issues across all age groups,” said Ms Ennis. “They are also finding that people are reluctant to argue against their landlord or strata’s ‘no pets’ policy because they are unwilling to risk losing their home or are unaware of their rights.”

Australia CAN member Animal Welfare League SA reported a 1.8% increase in pets surrendered due to rental issues in one year (7.5% in FY20/21 to 9.3% in FY21/22).

According to member Animal Welfare League QLD, people needing to surrender their pet due to accommodation reasons has increased from 19% to 27% during the past two years. In May 2022 alone, 108 pets (79 dogs and 29 cats) were surrendered to Australia CAN’s member agencies across the country.

“We need a national, strategic approach in imposing regulations preventing landlords from discriminating against people with pets and contributing to thousands of animals being surrendered to shelters,” said Ms Ennis.

Australia CAN Rent with Pets program

Australia CAN champions the benefits of the human-animal bond and promotes responsible pet ownership through national campaigns, partnerships, and initiatives, including its Rent with Pets program which provides information, advice, and resources to support tenants and landlords to be responsible pet owner tenants and welcoming landlords, and encourage pet friendly rental laws.

On a mission to create a more pet friendly Australia, Australia CAN wants a national law similar to what Victoria brought in last year where landlords cannot refuse a tenant’s request for a pet without approval from a tribunal.

“It would save money, protect lives and avoid a lot of stress. We know this causes mental health issues for people, as well as disruption and separation anxiety for their pets,” said Ms Ennis. “The increase in surrenders is also putting huge pressure on shelters and rescue groups across the country as many struggle with space and resources to care for these animals.”

Australia CAN’s Rent with Pets program aims to increase awareness around the surrender of pets to shelters due to difficulty finding pet friendly rental properties, and how we can all help to stop this.

“Many landlords and rental agents have a ‘no pets’ rental tenancy policy because they may think it’s easier to manage a property without pets or the pets might cause damage,” said Ms Ennis. “We know that a well-managed pet-friendly rental can deliver great economic outcomes for those willing to introduce a ‘pets considered’ policy.”

For instance, pet owning tenants are generally willing to pay more rent, pet friendly properties rent faster and reduce your advertising spend, and responsible pet owners can make excellent tenants and want to hold longer leases.

“Renting to more pet owners reduces animal euthanasia and results in better animal welfare and outcomes for tenants and landlords,” said Ms Ennis.

For a summary of rental laws in each state, visit Rent with Pets

What can you do to help?

Australia CAN shares advice on supporting pet friendly rentals and to relieve some of the pressure on animal welfare groups.

  • Sign our pledge and contact your local MP to encourage pet friendly rental laws in your state. Download a sample letter here.
  • Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group, or one of our members here
  • Ask people to become responsible pet owners and help others to do the same.
  • If you’re a landlord or property manager, encourage responsible renting with pets by adding to advertisements ‘will consider pets with references’.
  • If you are searching for a pet friendly rental and a landlord refuses to allow pets, provide a pet resume and offer to pay a pet bond to cover the costs for cleaning or repairs and give them peace of mind. Here are some tips to write a stellar pet resume.
  • If it’s impossible to keep your pet at your rental, consider family and friends or short-term pet boarding facility for the time being.
  • Visit Rentwithpets.com.au and learn how to work with each other to achieve the goal of no surrenders due to rental refusal.

About Rent with Pets

Rent with Pets is run by the Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) whose six member agencies aim to make the world a better place for pets through national campaigns, partnerships and initiatives.Rent with Pets was established to create a bridge between responsible pet owners and the nation’s landlords, sharing information that will help them work together for the benefit of companion animals and their families.

Rent with Pets aims to increase the number of pet-friendly rental homes to prevent animals from being euthanised or surrendered to shelters due to difficulty finding pet-friendly rental properties. To discover more, visit www.Rentwithpets.com.au

About Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN)

Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) comprises six member agencies, each aiming to make the world a better place for pets. Through national campaigns, partnerships and initiatives, we celebrate the human-animal bond and promote responsible pet ownership.

We use our national voice to campaign for the humane treatment of all companion animals and we rally support for programmes that deliver high welfare standards. To discover more, visit https://australiacan.org.au/