Friday, July 29, 2016

Tenants: what will it take for you to adopt a greyhound?

Earlier this month Premier Mike Baird announced the closure of the NSW greyhound racing industry, following a Special Commission report into widespread cruelty. The industry will be wound up in an orderly fashion, with a plan to be implemented over the next 12 months. More information can be found in a published Q&A document from NSW Justice.

The dogs of NSW's racing industry will need new homes
According to the document, there are nearly 7,000 registered greyhounds in NSW. It proposes four ways of transitioning them out of the NSW racing industry: leaving them in their current homes, rehoming them through an adoption program, sending them to other states or countries where the racing industry will treat them better, or euthanise them humanely.

We reckon the first two options look the best. So, it stands to reason that one of the biggest tasks for the industry over the next year will be finding new homes for greyhounds that will no longer be able to race in NSW.

Gemma McKinnon, a long-time friend of the Brown Couch, former Tenants' Advocate and one-time lawyer at the Tenants Union of NSW, would love to adopt one. But she has a problem - her landlord won't allow it. And while renting laws in NSW don't specifically require tenants to get their landlord's permission to keep a pet, most residential tenancy agreements do. She's started a change.org petition to draw attention to this, pointing out that "current tenancy laws in NSW mean that many potential greyhound owners are unable to assist in rehoming greyhounds because landlords can (and often do) refuse tenant requests to have pets in their home".

We've long advocated for a prohibition on "no-pets" clauses in tenancy agreements. We argued for this during the recent review of the Residential Tenancies Act, but unfortunately Fair Trading NSW has made no such recommendation in their report. In fact, they've declined to make any comment on the issue altogether. Given the Government's intention to shut down the greyhound racing industry and create a flood of animals facing euthanasia if they cannot be rehomed, this is a terrible shame.

One in three households in NSW are in a rented home. That's an awful lot of people who might put their hand up to help out, if only they could. Ms McKinnon's petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures since it was launched earlier this week. That's quite an indication of support.

Fair Trading and the NSW Government should reconsider their position on this.


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