Finding a good home to rent is hard enough, but when you add a pet to the mix, it is even more challenging. Landlords may be stuck on banning pets, and some apartment bylaws prohibit all animals in their complex.
Australia now has one of the world’s highest rates of pet ownership at 63%. These attitudes are now changing, and it’s getting easier for renters with pets.
Many state governments promote the idea that pets should be allowed, and some property managers may issue additional small bonds in the case of damage. Many apartments relax their bylaws for suitable pets, like small dogs, cats and reptiles.
How to convince landlords to allow pets
There are plenty of things tenants can do to help their plight when they apply for a new rental.
You may help your application by providing a CV for your pet, including any photographs and references attesting to their character and behaviour.
Pet owners should be upfront and honest about their pets. Please don’t make them out to be anything they’re not. Also, note that rules are different from one apartment building to another.
Landlords may not categorise their property as pet-friendly but will agree to the request when approached by a responsible pet-owner armed with references from previous landlords. Some apartment buildings that had forbidden pets in the past are now reviewing their strata rules to allow them in.
The laws are different regarding allowing pets into apartments and rental properties by states, so pet owners need to know what rules could affect them and their pets.
Australia has one of the highest global rates of pet ownership, so finding a good rental is an issue facing a lot of hardworking and responsible pet owners.
Offering to add an extra pet clause into a rental agreement to clean carpets once a year, and fix any possible damage may help. It’s also a good idea to write a pet resume to show how well-behaved your pet is, including references from former landlords and neighbours.
Don’t be put off by a home that’s not advertised as pet-friendly. Owners may not advertise that they are pet-friendly when, in fact, they might be for the right applicant. So always ask the question directly.
It’s vital to ensure your pet is not a problem. Serious behavioural issues such as digging, barking, or escaping may require the help of experts.
Laws for renting with pets in each state
The rules for renting with pets differ in each state and territory. Tenants must also remember that individual apartment complexes may have their own conditions on top of their state’s legislation.
The default residential tenancy agreement issued by Fair Trading NSW includes a clause requiring the landlord’s consent, along with restrictions on the type of animal and whether carpets need professional cleaning. Apartment and townhouse complexes will also have their own bylaws.
Every tenant in Victoria now has the right to keep a pet in their rental home after the government recently reformed the state’s tenancy. Landlords must still give permission but can only refuse for an exceptional reason. Tenants are now able to appeal to VCAT.
The state government has introduced significant reforms to the tenancy act to make pet ownership in rental properties easier from mid-2022. Landlords must now give permission and can only refuse requests by exception. Turning down requests under these new rules is much more difficult.
Landlords will grant permission for pets to be kept by tenants. There’s no legal provision for pet bonds, but many landlords will ask for a signed agreement enforcing specific rules, such as no barking or property damage.
Again, landlords can restrict tenants with pets only if they demonstrate ‘reasonable’ grounds. They must ensure they make good any damage by the lease’s end.
Pets are allowed, and pet bonds are considered a standard part of residential tenancy agreements in WA. The law currently states that they may charge a maximum of $260 to meet fumigation costs at the end of the tenancy. Tenants are obligated to list all pets in the lease, and the landlord must give permission.
In NT, it’s the landlord’s discretion whether pets are allowed. Tenants can still negotiate when there’s a no-pet clause in the agreement, or they can apply to NTCAT in some circumstances. Some landlords include a clause to complete flea and tick sprays at the end of the term. Pet bonds are illegal.
A tenant may only have a pet if the owner has agreed or if it is in the lease. The renter must repair any damage caused by the pet at the end of the tenancy. Fumigation is often included as a term in the lease.
Tips for renting with pets
- If a property doesn’t advertise being pet-friendly, ask anyway. Landlords may allow pets if they find you a good fit.
- Prepare a pet resume showing training and references from past landlords and neighbours.
- Offer to have the carpets professionally cleaned once a year.
- Don’t try and hide them if they’re not allowed. Be honest.
- Always seek professional help for behavioural problems like escaping, digging or biting.
Victorian tenants’ rights to keep a pet with the landlord’s consent
Victorian tenants must submit a completed pet request form to their landlord if they wish to move in with their pet.
Your landlord may only refuse a pet request if the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) orders that it is reasonable.
A pet is any animal except an assistance dog. For further information about assistance dogs and renting, view Discrimination in renting.
What tenants need to do
- Complete pet request form for each pet.
- Submit these to your landlord.
- Keep a copy for your records.
The landlord has 14 days from the day after they receive the form to apply to VCAT if they want to refuse. If you do not hear within this time, you are allowed to keep the pet in the property.
TIPS FOR COMPLETING A PET REQUEST FORM
It’s wise to provide information to help the landlord decide whether the pet is suitable to be kept on the premises. Include:
- information about your pet’s age, temperament, training, etc
- references from your vet, trainer, previous landlord or neighbours
- why do you think the property is suitable for keeping your pet?
You should also check that your pet complies with local council laws. These laws apply regardless of whether the landlord has given consent. For more information, visit the Pets section on – Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions website.
What landlords need to do
You must notify the tenant in writing to consent to a pet request.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, a landlord must not refuse consent for a tenant to keep a pet on the rented premises unreasonably.
If you wish to refuse consent, you must apply to VCAT within 14 days, starting the day after receiving the form. VCAT will consider your circumstances and whether the pet is suitable for the property.
If you do not apply to VCAT in this timeframe, you have consented to the pet request.
If the landlord applies to VCAT
VCAT can order that either:
- the landlord’s refusal is reasonable, and the pet must be removed from the property, or
- the tenant can keep the pet on the property.
When making its decision, VCAT will consider:
- the type of pet
- the type of property
- appliances, fixtures and fittings
- other relevant laws, e.g. council laws
- anything else VCAT believes appropriate.
If VCAT orders the pet from the premises, the tenant has 14 days to comply with the order. If they have not complied with the order after 14 days, the landlord may serve them with a notice of eviction, giving at least 28 days’ warning.
If the landlord wants to restrict a pet outdoors
The landlord may try to negotiate conditions for keeping a pet on the property, like not allowing the pet inside. If the tenant doesn’t agree to the requirements, the landlord must apply to VCAT.
All conditions both parties agree to must be in writing.
If a pet causes damage or other problems
Tenants have responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, which include:
- taking care and avoiding damage to the rented premises
- keeping the leased premises reasonably clean
- not causing a nuisance or interfering with neighbours’ reasonable peace, comfort or privacy.
The landlord can breach duty notice if the tenant does not meet their obligations. A breach duty notice tells the tenant to fix the breach or pay for any damage. It also states that the tenant must not repeat the violation.
If the tenant fails to comply with this notice, the landlord can apply to VCAT for compensation or compliance order.
When assessing the damage caused by a pet, VCAT will take into account:
- reasonable wear and tear of the landlord’s property
- the age and condition of the damaged property
If a tenant keeps a pet without the consent
If a landlord has proof that their tenant is illegally keeping a pet on the premises, the landlord may apply to VCAT for a pet exclusion order to remove it from the premises.
In Victoria, landlords and owners are not permitted to ask for an additional ‘pet bond’ bond, but you can offer one as a tenant.
Pets in apartments and units
Apartments and units will likely have an owners corporation that manages common areas, including gardens, driveways and entrance ways. An owners corporation might have its own rules around keeping pets, which a tenant needs to follow.
Landlords or owners will give tenants a copy of their corporation rules when they move in.
If the owners corporation decides a tenant’s pet is dangerous or causing a nuisance, they may order you to remove the pet.
Pets in specialist disability accommodation (SDA)
If you are in SDA under a tenancy agreement, you hold the same rights and responsibilities as other tenants. If you have a pet, you must give your SDA provider a completed Pet request form. You can find more information at What tenants need to do.
Pets in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks
Rooming house residents may only keep a pet with the residence’s owners permission.
In addition, residents of caravan parks and residential parks must follow the parks’ rules concerning pets. If you find a ruling unreasonable, you may apply to VCAT to pursue the matter. VCAT may decide on the unfair law and ask the park operator to amend or remove it, or it may find it reasonable and stay in force.