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Renting with pets - survey
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07/02/2013 - 1:01 pm
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This is a press release from the University of Western Sydney about a new survey into pets in rented homes.

Can my pet come too?
World-first study of pets and rental housing

With a growing proportion of people living in rental housing, researchers at the University of Western Sydney are looking for 1,000 Sydney pet-owners who have rented in the past 10 years to participate in a world-first survey of rental housing and pet ownership:

“Rental accommodation is an issue of growing social significance.  According to the ABS (2008) one third of all Australian households rent their accommodation, rising to 49% of lower income households.  We know that owning a pet can make it very difficult to find rental accommodation but the reasons and impacts of this have not been researched until now,” says Dr Emma Power, Lecturer in Geography and Urban Studies, University of Western Sydney.

Dr Power says that restrictions on pet ownership are likely to impact most strongly on lower income households, but there is evidence that middle and higher income households also experience difficulty in securing pet-friendly accommodation.

Dr Power says that tenants often need to move more than people who own their home and this is a contributing factor to the difficulties they experience.

“Nearly three quarters of rental households move within a five year period[1] and international research has shown that moving house is one of the most significant influences on the decision to relinquish a pet.  While there has been some scholarly research on the animal welfare issues associated with this, we want to explore the impacts that restrictions on pet keeping in rental and strata properties have on the individual and the community,” Dr Power said. 

“For example, a NSW study of single mothers who rent showed that already excessive levels of personal and family stress were compounded by the last-resort decision some of them had to make to relinquish a pet in order to provide their children with housing.[2]

“Pets provide a range of benefits to individuals and the community and we know that relinquishing a pet is not a decision owners make easily.  Owners typically try a number of methods of finding pet-friendly rental accommodation and only resort to relinquishment when they have no other options,” Dr Power said.

“Clearly, property owners have the right to manage their property in accordance with their priorities but I am hopeful that the research will create greater understanding of the perspectives of both property owners and tenants and provide information that can create positive outcomes for the welfare of people and companion animals,” Dr Power said.

The research is being conducted under the University of Western Sydney’s Partnership Grants Scheme between UWS and the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS).  The research will include real estate agents involved in tenancy management and people renting privately with pets and will be completed during 2013.


The survey is seeking input from people in the Greater Sydney area who currently rent or have rented and own a pet:


Key Facts

  • Participants needed for this world first study. More information available at
  • Approximately one in three Australian households lives in rented accommodation.
  • 63% of renter households rent for five or more years, while 41% rent for ten or more years[3].
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with over 60% of households including one or more pets.
  • Pet ownership is proven to have important physical and mental health benefits for individuals and create enhanced levels of community engagement.
  • In NSW tenancy law, the Standard Agreement offers landlords two choices: disallow all pets from being kept on the premises or authorise the keeping of a specified pet or pets.
  • The default setting in NSW model strata by-laws is that no occupant can keep a pet without the permission of the owners’ corporation.
  • 75% of City of Sydney dwellings are strata and 63% of these are rented.  If a tenant in a strata property wishes to own a pet, they must apply first to their landlord and then to the owners corporation.
  •  Research suggests that up to 20% of rental households keep pets illegally[4].


[1] Hulse et al 2011 (AHURI Final Report No. 170).
[2] Holdsworth 2007
[3] Hulse 2011 (AHURI Final Report No.170)
[4] Carlisle-Frank et al 2005. 
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