WITH a growing proportion of people living in rental housing, University of Western Sydney researchers are looking for 1000 Sydney pet owners who have rented in the past 10 years to participate in a world-first survey of rental housing and pet ownership.
Rental accommodation is an issue of growing social significance.
ABS figures (2008) show a third of all households rent their accommodation, rising to 49 per cent of lower income households.
"We know that owning a pet can make it very difficult to find rental accommodation but the reasons and impacts of this have not been researched until now," Dr Emma Power, lecturer in Geography and Urban Studies, University of Western Sydney said.
She said restrictions on pet ownership are likely to impact most strongly on lower income households, but there is evidence that middle and higher income households also experience difficulty in securing pet-friendly accommodation.
Tenants often need to move more than people who own their home and this is a contributing factor to the difficulties they experience.
"Nearly three quarters of rental households move within a five year period and international research has shown that moving house is one of the most significant influences on the decision to relinquish a pet," Dr Power said.
"While there has been some scholarly research on the animal welfare issues associated with this, we want to explore the impacts that restrictions on pet keeping in rental and strata properties have on the individual and the community."
She said pets provide a range of benefits to individuals and the community and we know that relinquishing a pet is not a decision owners make easily. "Owners typically try a number of methods of finding pet-friendly rental accommodation and only resort to relinquishment when they have no other options," she said.
The research is being conducted under the University of Western Sydney's Partnership Grants Scheme between UWS and the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS).
It will include real estate agents involved in tenancy management and people renting privately with pets and will be completed during 2013.
Go to www.uws.edu.au/rentingwithpets.