Landlords shocked by new pet rule

Feb 2020Karen Millers

The state government of the Northern Territory has ruled in favour of the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act despite the negative feedback from the Legislation Scrutiny Committee.

The amendments seek to give rights to tenants to own a pet. Under the proposed changes, tenants who wish to have a pet must submit a written notice to their landlords. The burden will fall on landlords to make objections to the Northern Territory Civil Administrative Tribunal within 14 days of the receipt of the written notice. If no objections are made on the part of the property owner, the tenants will get to keep their pet.

These amendments were not supported by the Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which said that these could “pose an unreasonable burden to the landlord and will only benefit a small proportion of tenants in private rental housing.”

“This is only the first tranche of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and it signals that this government is willing to take away all rights of landlords and owners by ignoring all evidence presented to it by stakeholders and its Legislative Scrutiny Committee,” said Quentin Kilian, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Northern Territory, in a statement.

These changes are similar to the ones implemented in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.

“With the territory’s economy already on its knees and the property market having wiped 10 years of capital growth off the books due to decisions of this government, they now seek to drive away investors from a property market that is just starting to show signs of recovery,” Kilian said.

Peter Koulizos, the chairperson of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia, said these changes could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” for many investors.

“They will consider selling as they don’t want more hassles. However, with the Northern Territory, property prices are currently significantly below where they were a few years ago. Most investors would be crystallising a capital loss if they sold now or in the near future,” he told Your Investment Property.

The median price in Darwin, Northern Territory’s capital, fell by 8.1% in January on an annual basis to $390,143, according to CoreLogic’s Home Value Index.

If enough investors sell their properties, a lower supply of rental housing could ensue, Koulizos said. A tight supply of rental homes could, in turn, increase rents.

“A good starting point would have been to consult with stakeholders such as the tenants’ association, property investors, and public housing providers, and seriously take into consideration each party’s perspective and try and come to a consensus before introducing any legislation into parliament,” Koulizos said. “It seems to be too late to do this now, but this process should be undertaken when this legislation is due for a review.”

Gerv Tacadena, Your Investment Property, 25 February 2020

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