Renters’ rights in frame

Re­view ad­dresses pet peeves of ten­ants, land­lords

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - CRAIG DUN­LOP

TER­RI­TORY renters might soon have an eas­ier time find­ing a prop­erty where they can keep a pet, and might be able to bang pic­ture hooks into the wall with­out hav­ing to beg per­mis­sion from their land­lords.

A dis­cus­sion pa­per, re­leased yes­ter­day as part of a sweep­ing re­view of the Res­i­den­tial Ten­an­cies Act, has pro­posed a se­ries of 18 re­forms and opened up nine ques­tions for pub­lic com­ment.

These in­clude how to make rent­ing eas­ier for dog and cat own­ers and whether renters should be al­lowed to make “mi­nor al­ter­ations”, like nail­ing pic­ture hooks into the wall, with­out ask­ing the land­lord.

The pa­per, which is open for pub­lic com­ment un­til late Au­gust, says some peo­ple view pet own­er­ship as a “ba­sic right” but “most” Ter­ri­tory land­lords do not al­low pets.

Real Es­tate In­sti­tute NT chief ex­ec­u­tive Quentin Kil­ian said he had been lob­by­ing for years for land­lords to be able to hold a “pet bond” to cover any po­ten­tial dam­age.

“We want to en­cour­age more land­lords to be com­fort­able with al­low­ing pets,” he said.

He said the “pet bond” had worked well in Western Aus­tralia and South Aus­tralia, although the dis­cus­sion pa­per, au­thored by De­part­ment of At­tor­ney-Gen­eral bu­reau­crats, said there were “equally valid” ar­gu­ments against it.

“These (ar­gu­ments) in­clude that the as­sump­tion that pets cause nui­sance and dam­age to prop­erty is false,” it said.

“Al­beit tongue in cheek, it has also been sug­gested that if pet bonds are to be­come the norm, reg­u­la­tors should also in­tro­duce child bonds given the propen­sity for chil­dren to cause dam­age.”

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Natasha Fyles said she hoped any re­forms would ad­dress com­mu­nity needs and reflect mod­ern prac­tices.

Mr Kil­ian said al­low­ing renters to make “mi­nor al­ter­ations” with­out ap­proval “treads on very dan­ger­ous ground” and prop­erty own­ers shouldn’t be lumped with the cost of un­do­ing al­ter­ations. He said there needed to be a “bal­ance of fair­ness” be­tween the rights of land­lords and renters.

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