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Government announces pet bond policy for renters

Apr 15, 2024

The government has announced a two-week pet bond and obligations for tenants to pay for damage their animals cause in a bid to make renting with an animal easier.

It intends changing the Residential Tenancies Act next month in a bid to give pet owners more choice when trying to find a rental.

Housing Minister Chris Bishop and his dog, Ladyhawke, made the announcement alongside ACT leader and Regulations Minister David Seymour.

The changes

  • Introducing a pet bond (a maximum of two weeks' rent) that can be charged in addition to the existing bond.
  • Making tenants liable for all pet damage to properties beyond fair wear and tear, whether accidental or deliberate.
  • Requiring tenants can only have a pet or pets with the landlord's consent. The landlord can withhold consent on reasonable grounds.

"Pets are important members of many Kiwi families. It's estimated that around 64 percent of New Zealand households own at least one pet, and 59 percent 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."

Seymour said the policy would fix the problem of tenants being locked out of rental markets due to landlords not being willing to take a risk on tenants with pets.

He was confident tenants wouldn't mind paying extra (set at a maximum of two weeks' rent) if it meant their pet could move in too.

"More landlords would be willing to allow pets if they could protect themselves from some of the risks."

He said the move would also be important for helping domestic abuse victims who were often trapped in violent relationships in part to protect animals.

"Helping these people find rentals that are accepting of pets will allow them to move on safely and have a brighter future."

The government intends introducing a bill amendmening current laws in May.

Media were invited to the announcement with a note "Ladyhawke Bishop, Minister of Snuggles" would be attending with "some colleagues".

Ladyhawke, a Samoyed, also interjected several times during the press conference as Bishop was speaking.

ACT proposed the policy during the election campaign alongside other tenancy changes, saying it would allow "genuine negotiation" between landlords and tenants and increase the number of rentals allowing pets.

The party secured it in the coalition agreement with National.

Main image (RNZ/Samuel Rillstone): Ladyhawke Bishop contributes to the policy unveiling. 

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