RENTING AND PETS
Australians love our furry family members. In fact, the federal government’s Pets in Australia survey found that more than 60 per cent of Australian households have a pet. However, the rules about renting with pets can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is it so hard to rent with a pet?
The rationale is simple. Many landlords are worried about pets causing damage (more than just reasonable wear and tear) and making excessive noise that will impact other inhabitants. In the past, many landlords have banned pets straight off the bat. Some have permitted pets where the tenant applies for permission. Sometimes landlords say yes but strata committees say no. Rules change depending on where you live, so it’s important to be prepared.
Didn’t the law about pets change recently?
NSW had a major development in October 2020. The NSW Court of Appeal overturned a law allowing owners of apartment blocks to create bylaws banning pets. Tenant advocacy groups considered this to be a huge win, considering how many people rent with pets. However, each state has different rules, which is why it’s important to do your homework.
So what is the law about renting with pets?
Australian states are split into two groups:
- NSW, VIC, ACT: Tenants are allowed to keep pets. If landlords want to stop them, they need to go to a tribunal and explain why the property isn’t suitable for an animal.
- QLD, NT, WA, SA, TAS: Landlords can ban pets in rental properties for any reason.
However, even if you’re technically allowed to keep a pet in your rental property, you may need to make a separate application to the strata committee stating your case. You should also keep your neighbours in mind, because it’s important that you maintain a good relationship.
The best way to approach an application is to help them get to know your pet. Tell them your pet’s story and provide a picture (after all, who can resist a cute photo?). Make sure you have answers to all the practical questions they’re likely to ask, particularly relating to damage and noise. Is there enough space for your pet? Will you clean up after your pet? How is your pet trained? Will they scare anyone in the building? Can you keep them under control?
Having this ready will go a long way towards getting strata on board.
What if I want to fight for my four-legged friend?
The best place to start is by talking to your landlord, property manager, or strata committee. A simple conversation can go a long way and this should result in a yes/no answer. It’s always best to get this in writing just in case you need to refer to it in the future. If you want to dispute the decision, you can talk to the relevant government authority in your state or local tenant advice service. In NSW, this is either NSW Fair Trading or the Tenants’ Union of NSW.