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Pet bonds to make renting while owning animals easier

Publish Date
Mon, 15 Apr 2024, 1:24PM

Pet bonds to make renting while owning animals easier

Publish Date
Mon, 15 Apr 2024, 1:24PM

The Government will legislate to allow landlords to ask prospective tenants to put up an additional amount in bond for damage caused by a pet. 

Dubbed a “pet bond”, the idea is to encourage landlords to take a risk in allowing tenants with pets to take a tenancy because they know any damage caused by a pet would be recoverable. 

Damage caused by pets is covered by the current bond regime, but the amount of bond that can be demanded is capped at four weeks’ rent. Many landlords flat out refuse to allow pets in their rentals. The change will allow landlords to set a pet bond of a maximum of two weeks’ rent. 

Tenants will be liable for all pet damage to property 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. Tenants will only be allowed to have a pet with the consent of the landlord, who can consent or withhold on reasonable grounds. 

The change looks likely to be included in a Residential Tenancy Act amendment bill which is set to be introduced in May. That bill will roll back changes made by Labour which made it more difficult to evict tenants. 

The Government says these changes will encourage more investment into rentals, increasing competition and thereby making life better for landlords and tenants. Officials at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development were sceptical that the benefits to tenants would outweigh the cost of greater insecurity of tenure. 

The announcement was made by Housing Minister Chris Bishop and Minister of Regulation David Seymour. The pet bond idea was an Act party policy. 

“Pets are important members of many Kiwi families. It’s estimated that around 64 per cent of New Zealand households own at least one pet, and 59 per cent of people who don’t have a pet would like to get one,” Bishop said. 

“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,” he said. 

Seymour said the policy would be helpful for people with pets who struggled to find rental accommodation. 

“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,” Mr Seymour says. 

“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,” he said. 

This story was originally published on the Herald, here

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