Rental generation shouldn't miss out on dogs: government

Renters with a "dog-shaped hole" in their lives may soon be able to keep a pet in their home after new laws passed ACT's Parliament on Thursday.

The government says the laws will allow a generation stuck in the rental market to make their house a home, but the opposition claims it will further tighten the market and even leave people homeless.

New rental laws will make it easier for tenants to own pets and make minor modifications.  Photo: Jim Rice

New rental laws will make it easier for tenants to own pets and make minor modifications. Photo: Jim Rice

The laws mean tenants will also be able to make minor modifications to their home, such as putting up picture frames, without the landlord's permission.

A landlord would have to get the permission of ACAT to refuse a request for a special modification or a pet.

In a fiery debate in Parliament, Liberals claimed the laws would kill the rental market and make it harder for people to find a rental.

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the bill helped create a fairer housing market in the ACT and balanced the rights between tenants and landlords.

"For many people having a pet is a critical part of having a home," he said.

Liberal Mark Parton said the legislation would make the rental market tighter and force investors out of the market.

He even went as far as to suggest the bill would make people homeless.

"Labor and the Greens are again trying to outdo themselves in the progressive stakes, they are trying to convince renters that they're looking after them," Mr Parton said.

"We have the tightest rental market of any capital city in Australia, we have the highest rents in Australia and everybody in this chamber is smart enough to know that the biggest single effect will be a further tightening of the market.

"This document ... at its most extreme point, will actually make people homeless."

Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson said there was a whole generation of young people priced out of the property market who were missing out on having dogs in their lives because their landlords would not allow it.

"There is a generation of permanent renters being created in this country and they are never going to own a home, they are going to rent for their entire lives and they want to make a home out of their rental property," he said.

"These people ... will never be able to own a dog because if you find one rental property that allows you to own a dog or pet, that's great, but just because you find one property where you can own a pet doesn't mean you can find another one.

"The idea that hanging a picture frame would cause someone to sell an investment property is ludicrous."

Liberal Vicki Dunne claimed Mr Peterson was living in an inner north bubble of hip young people.

She said she knew many renters had a "dog-shaped hole" in their lives because they were not allowed a pet.

But Mrs Dunne said people who usually lived in their homes but went away for overseas postings and did not want a pet living in their homes would simply not put it on the market.

The Greens' Caroline Le Couteur proposed further amendments which would have banned no cause evictions and create minimum standards for rental properties, but they were defeated.

But her proposal that landlords be required to give a statutory declaration when ending a tenancy because they, or a relative, want to move in was accepted.