Mental health considerations should drive changes to Tasmania’s Residential Tenancy Act

Independent Member for Bass, Lara Alexander, MP has called on the Rockliff Government to prioritise mental health when considering changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, such as those surrounding pet ownership.

Mrs Alexander said that in today’s rental property shortage, too many families or individuals are being forced to surrender their long-time animal companions to secure a roof over their head.

“Unfortunately, it has become a regular occurrence across Tasmania – one which brings shame on the government and one that requires immediate attention,” Mrs Alexander said.

“Over the last couple of years, too many Tasmanians have been forced to make a heart-breaking choice. Do they surrender their beloved pet to secure a rental property or keep their pet and risk homelessness and a life on our streets?

“Many pet lovers will understand their plight and their decision. To be honest, I would probably do the same. I simply cannot imagine the emotional distress of being forced to choose between a home or my mental health.

“Premier Rockliff, as Minister for Mental Health, is presiding over a growing number of Tasmanians whose emotional wellbeing and mental health will be negatively affected if they are forced to abandon their pet companions to secure a home. These are people who would rather be homeless or live in temporary, insecure accommodation so they can keep their pet.

“The Premier has said he wants to lead a government with heart, he is also the Minister for Mental Health. Surely me must recognise that pets are part of our families. It is disappointing to see his government failing to recognise that animal welfare isn’t just about the animals, it is also about the emotional welfare and mental wellbeing of the families and children who are forced to say goodbye to beloved pets because they have no other option,” Mrs Alexander said.

Mrs Alexander said the legislative change she is calling for will go a long way to minimise the number of Tasmanians forced to suffer the heart-breaking choice of losing a cherished animal companion and living with unnecessary emotional trauma leading to potential, costly mental health issues. She suggested that it is time for Tasmania’s Residential Tenancy Act to be revised to align with Victoria and Queensland where landlords must provide a good reason why pets are not allowed in rental properties.

Tuesday September 5th, 2023

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