• Sarah Minotti

RTA reform - Pets?

If you're like me you will have been following the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) reform with GREAT interest. The RTA basically governs renting in NZ so any changes will have a significant impact on renters and the wider industry.

The RTA was passed in 1986 and a lot has changed since then. Perhaps the most significant change is to do with home ownership. Less people own a home - in parts of the country this is simply out of reach for the average Kiwi. This has resulted in more people renting and renting for longer. Throughout the country there are more than 600,000 rental households in NZ. One third of all Kiwis are renters.

Potential changes to the status quo for renting with pets was part of the consultation for the RTA reform. Proposals included pet bonds and requirements around declining pets. Not surprisingly, this topic was of high interest. The most frequently answered question in all submissions? “Should a landlord be able to refuse a tenant’s request to keep a pet without giving a reason?”

Feedback from landlords on these proposals focused on concerns around potential damage to their property and the costs associated with this. Landlords believed that allowing pets should remain at their discretion. 83% of landlords believed they should be able to decline pet requests without giving a reason.They supported a pet bond being introduced.

Tenants expressed the difficulty associated with securing rental properties when they have pets. They noted the positive impacts of pet ownership on wellbeing. 72% of tenants believed landlords should not be able to decline pets without giving a reason.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development "It is an area where there are directly opposing and strongly-held views. The Government has been considering policy changes but has not yet come to a decision".

This is disappointing but hopefully, the Government will come to a decision soon. There is a happy medium. I encourage them to look to other countries who have already implemented the changes proposed and tailor them to suit our NZ context.

Pet ownership rates are increasing; the number of renters is increasing - we need a solution, quickly.

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