An acute shortage of rental properties and an end to moratorium on rent increases and evictions has forced many families to surrender their pets and stash their possessions as they search for somewhere to stay.
- A Perth dog refuge is receiving 10 calls a day about pet surrenders
- The rental crisis is also leading to a spike in online scams
- Storage providers say demand is up from people who need to stash their possessions
Karen Rhodes, the president of Perth’s Shenton Park Dog Refuge, told ABC Radio Perth’s Stan Shaw there had been a sharp increase in people seeking to surrender their pets.
“The rent has gone up, they have to move and they can’t find a rental that allows them to have a dog,” Ms Rhodes said.
“They have tried family members and we are the last case scenario — they have come to us and sadly said they need to surrender the dog.
“It’s not the dog’s fault at all.
The refuge normally receives 10-15 surrendered dogs a week, but that has spiked to 10 enquiries.
“We are taking four surrenders a day in, we are booked out for the next 10 days — that’s 40 dogs,” Ms Rhodes said.
“What we are worried about is if we keep getting calls – if those dogs aren’t adopted – at some stage we are going to have a limit on how much kennel space we have got.”
‘What excuse have you got?’
Ms Rhodes said the shelter would never euthanase dogs but was appealing to the public to consider adopting or fostering a rescue dog.
“If they come in to adopt dogs, then we can continue to take all of those other dogs that are going to keep coming in,” she said.
The issue has also prompted calls for WA to reform rental laws to make it easier for tenants to have pets, as Victoria did in 2017.
Landlord Tammy Kent said she had always allowed pets in her rental property and believed it should be the norm.
“I’d rather have tenants that treat the house like it’s their home and in my opinion that includes pets,” she said.
“People often do more damage than animals do — and if you get a bond and have insurance, what excuse have you got for not allowing pets?
‘Heartless scammers’ swoop
Acute competition for rental properties has also let to an increase in scams that have cost desperate tenants thousands of dollars, Consumer Protection has warned.
In one case, a woman and her four children were left homeless and lost $3,600 to a scammer who advertised a northern suburbs home on Facebook Marketplace.
When she went to move in, the home was found to be already leased through a legitimate agent.
Consumer Protection commissioner Lanie Chopping advised prospective tenants to always inspect a property personally and not to hand over money without receiving keys and a signed lease agreement.
“These heartless scammers are exploiting the desperation of tenants who may face being homeless unless they can secure a rental and the victims can least afford to lose money to fraudsters,” Ms Chopping said.
The shortage of vacant properties and steep rent increases have also been noted by storage providers, who have seen a spike in people needing space for their household items.
Sandy Reed, the general manager of Osborne Park Koala self-storage, told ABC Radio Perth’s Christine Layton that the problem seemed to be “quite huge”.
“We have a lot of clients who are looking for storage because they just don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.
“We just had a couple in the other day with a three-week-old baby — their landlord had put the rent up $200 a week and they have basically been evicted because they can’t afford to pay their rent.
“It’s quite sad.”
Of the facility’s 750 storage units only four are available.
“We have a waitlist at the moment and that’s what we are working on, going through and prioritising who needs it more quickly than others, and then we go from there,” Ms Reed said.
The Perth rental vacancy rate sat at one per cent in February, when figures were last released by the Real Estate Institute of WA.