Students Not Convinced By Government’s ‘Pet-Bond’ Policy

Students Not Convinced By Government’s ‘Pet-Bond’ Policy

Let a man have his ducks

In a spate of new changes to renting legislation, the National coalition Government announced a new pet bond policy which claims that it will make rentals easier to find for pet owners. The pet bond of two weeks of rent aims to make landlords more accepting of the risk of letting a pet live at their property. 

Minister of Housing, Chris Bishop (the Chris from National that isn’t the Prime Minister), David Seymour, and Chris’ dog ‘Ladyhawke Bishop’ fronted a press conference announcing the changes to the nation. Though Seymour and Bishop each got a few licks in, it was the ‘Minister of Snuggles’ who dominated the press conference. Classic barking politicians. 

Though the government has highlighted the benefits of the policy for renters, it will also make tenants fully liable for any damage their pets do in their property beyond general wear-and-tear. Even accidental damage (big yikes if your dog loves to tear everything apart) could incur significant cost to renters. Landlords will now only be able to withhold consent for having a pet on “reasonable grounds,” taking away a landlord’s ability to just chuck a “no pets” on their TradeMe property listing for no specific reason. 

Some students have expressed their doubts over the supposed “benefits” of the policy to renters, having dealt with numerous pet-related battles with landlords in the past. Several students reported to Critic Te Ārohi that Dunedin flats are decidedly anti-pet, with many detailing incidents of landlord freakouts in response to pet ownership.

Jam told Critic that she had to hide her cat during inspections in what was described as a “fairly anxiety inducing” experience. She added that “as the student experience isn't linear, there are a lot of older students/postgrads who are more settled in their flats and are willing to take risks with having illegal pets or are actually allowed pets.”

Despite her struggles, Jam critiqued the pet bond, saying, “Honestly, I can’t see the pet bond helping pet owners in my demographic.” In critiquing the policy, she spoke directly to the cost inflicted on renters: “A six-week bond as a student is a crazy amount of money! Modelling off my current rent situation, I'd be paying $900 in bond, which is crazy – even working full-time now.”

Cat-owner and student, Sarah, said that she “went to a [flat] viewing and, at the time, the listing said the flat was cat friendly, which was the reason we wanted to apply.” After getting the cat-friendly flat, Sarah and her flatties “went to sign and saw that the tenancy agreement was marked ‘no pets’.” The flat were initially told they could amend the tenancy agreement with “no problem,” until a month later when they found that the tenancy agreement was marked “no pets” and that discussions would be had between the property manager and landlord to see if the cat was allowed. “Thankfully there was no push back and they kept their word,” she said, but the affair was a “stressful” one.

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2024.
Posted 10:28pm Friday 26th April 2024 by Gryffin Powell.