A guide to renting with pets

January 25, 2022

Science has proven that pets bring people joy. But if you’ve ever been a pet owner, we’re sure that you don’t need any scientific research to confirm that. You’ve already experienced it first-hand.

Pets make you happy for a plethora of reasons. They are a source of both comfort and entertainment, they help keep you active, they can reduce your stress and anxiety, and you know they’re always there for you.

Pets aren’t just friends, they’re family.

That’s why seeing a “No pets allowed” rule in an apartment you want to move into can be a total dealbreaker, making it even harder for people to find the right home to settle in, and for landlords to find new tenants.

Thankfully, renting with pets isn’t as tough as it used to be.

With Australia having one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, lawmakers have acknowledged that the law favored the landlords more than tenants in this regard, and so legislation needed to be changed.

Now, renters have more rights as pet owners, and attitudes towards allowing pets in rental properties have become more positive in recent years.

This guide will help you better understand your rights and expectations when renting with pets – as a tenant, or as a landlord.

What the law states when renting with pets

Most of us love having pets, so banning pet ownership in an apartment can give rise to several problems for tenants – potential or otherwise.

Around 61% of households in Australia have pets, and collectively, there are more than 29 million pets in the country. And with 31% of Australians being renters, it’s not hard to see why the laws around pet ownership in rental properties had to be changed.

In the past, renting apartments was difficult for pet lovers. While each state and territory has legislation regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, the majority of these laws made no mention of pet ownership.

Now, some new laws prevent landlords from unreasonably rejecting their tenants’ requests to take in pets, depending on where you live. So as long as you’re not illegally bringing exotic or endangered animals with you, you have a fair chance of living with a pet on the property you’re renting.

Generally, tenants have the right to keep a pet with the landlord’s consent, but how this works is a little different per state and territory:

  • Victoria – Tenants must now request their landlord’s consent if they want to bring a new pet into the property, regardless of when their lease started. Likewise, landlords cannot refuse without good reason.
  • New South Wales – The law doesn’t prohibit tenants from owning pets, and it doesn’t require them to ask for consent from the landlords. However, many landlords include a clause that restricts pets in the tenancy agreement, and the law doesn’t prohibit them from applying this.
  • Queensland– Tenants need to ask for permission to keep a pet in the property, but unlike the new legislation in Victoria, the landlord has the right to refuse. Here’s a list of prohibited pets in Queensland.
  • Western Australia – The law allows landlords to charge an additional pet bond that can cost up to $260.
  • Northern Territory –With the recently amended law, landlords have 14 days to accept or deny their tenants’ written requests to own a pet. If the landlord declines it, they have to submit an application to the tribunal, proving that their denial is reasonable. If the tribunal rejects this application, the tenant is free to keep their pet.
  • Tasmania – It is the landlord’s prerogative to allow or deny their tenants owning pets, and tenants might be liable for any damages incurred.

  • Canberra– Pet owners are favoured in Canberra’s new law, where tenants can keep their pets with their landlord’s consent, and tenancy agreements cannot ban pets completely.

How to rent with pets

If you’re a pet owner, you already know that taking care of pets isn’t easy. This is probably why many landlords don’t like pets on their property.

That’s why if you want to keep a pet in your rental property, you need to become a responsible tenant and pet owner. Here’s how:

1. Know your responsibilities.

Pets can be loud enough to disturb neighboring tenants, and some of them can cause damages to property, not limited to scratching the walls or staining the floors and carpets. And worse, they may cause injury to others.

So if you want landlords to be more accepting of having pets living on their property, you need to respect their property too. Make sure that your pet is well-disciplined or trained so that they don’t disturb or hurt anyone.

2. Keep accurate records

Keep records of vaccinations, receipts, and prescriptions from your pet’s veterinarian.

This will be your proof that your pets are in good health, that they aren’t a threat to others, and that you’re a caring and trustworthy pet owner.

3. Get a written agreement

If there are any conditions agreed upon between you and your landlord (e.g. a trial period, additional fees, etc.), it’s important that you have all the relevant details and terms in writing.

If any disputes happen, you have the written agreement to refer to. This will also help settle any disagreements before it leads to a legal battle. And if it does, the documents will help your case.

4. Keep it clean.

It’s your job to clean up after your pets and maintain their hygiene. Apart from ensuring that your pets don’t leave their waste in random places, you also need to make sure that your pets don’t smell and are free of fleas.

This will avoid any complaints from the community and will more easily convince the landlord that your pet isn’t a problem to anyone (and anything within the property).

Why tenants with pets are a good thing

As a landlord, it’s completely understandable to be wary about having pet owners as tenants. As mentioned above, pets can be a real nuisance (or in some cases dangerous), especially if the tenant isn’t a responsible pet owner.

However, renting your property to someone who has pets can be a good thing. Here’s why:

1. Higher rental returns

Tenants who own pets generally agree to pay additional fees in their rental contracts, such as pet bonds and additional cleaning fees, according to a Dogs Victoria survey.

With that in mind, you can gain up to 14% more rent if you rent your property to a pet owner.
So why say no to that extra money?

2. Responsible pet owners make responsible tenants

Any responsible pet owner understands how tedious it can be to take care of pets. It’s not only young Spotty that they’re looking after – it’s everything he does and everywhere he goes.

Good pet owners are typically tidy and have a keen sense of detail, so you can expect that they will take proper care of your property and avoid damaging it as best as they can.

3. Longer tenancy

Given that not all landlords are open to the idea of their tenants keeping pets with them, pet owners typically find and stick to accommodation where they’re sure the landlord accepts and supports them having pets.

Since it will be difficult to look for another pet-friendly property, they typically sign a longer lease or renew their lease, therefore staying longer than non-pet owners on average.

4. Pet-friendly properties rent faster

With a massive portion of the Australian population being pet owners, banning pets in your property will drive potential ideal tenants away.

That means, being open to allowing pets in your property will increase demand for it and help it rent faster.

Renting with pets can pose some concerns for both landlord and tenant. Tenants have a hard time finding homes that can accommodate their pets, and many landlords are wary of the potential damage that their tenants’ pet can incur.

But with a majority of Australians being pet owners, allowing pets to reside in rental properties actually benefits both the landlord and tenant.

And it’s completely possible for both sides to have a harmonious relationship, as long as they respect their agreements and fulfil their responsibilities.

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