Landlords warn “mum and dad investors” could pull out of the property market if rules about pets are changed

A push to change the rules about renting with pets could lead to “mum and dad investors” pulling out of the property market, according to landlords.

Cathy and Adrian Southwell renovate an investment property. They've hit out at a push to change landlord's rights.

Cathy and Adrian Southwell renovate an investment property. They've hit out at a push to change landlord's rights.

A campaign run by the Tenants Union of NSW and backed by animal rescue groups is hoping to make it illegal to discriminate against prospective tenants with pets.

However, Riverina landlord Cathy Southwell said she would never rent a property to tenants with pets again after a $10,000 damage bill caused by dogs kept inside one of her houses.

“We’re all for people having pets, we have pets,” Ms Southwell said. “We agreed with one lady that she could have dogs if they stayed outside but after she left there was heaps of damage – the bond nowhere near covered it.”

After the tenant left, Ms Southwell had to replace carpets, repair clawed walls and doors and repaint the interior

“Tenants seem to think landlords are loaded, but many of them are mum and dad investors,” she said.

“They struggle to come up with that sort of money.”

One former landlord said she wouldn’t risk her property again after a horror tenant and believed any change in the law would either increase rents or reduce the number of properties on the market.

Ms Southwell agreed, saying there would be too much risk.

“We probably wouldn’t keep our investment properties if the rules changed,” she said. “We own the house, we should be able to say who goes in as it’s our risk.”

Pet rescue groups said they got constant calls from people wanting to surrender animals because they couldn’t take them into a new rental, but Ned Cutcher from the Tenant’s Union of NSW believed there was a deeper issue at play.

“We’re moving into uncharted territory in Australia with more people renting for longer, more families renting and people who are expected to rent well into the late stages of their life,” he said.

“The old notions about who’s in the rental market and what they should do in their homes needs to be revisited.”

While some suggested a mandatory tenant’s insurance for pet owners or a separate rental bond for pets, Ms Southwell doubted they would work in practice.

“I used to work as a tenant’s advisor, I know how difficult it can be for landlords to get money out of tenants,” she said.

“It’s too much of a pain the butt, you’d just find tenants who didn’t have pets instead.”

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