Pets and Rentals

This situation is causing many people stress, and being unable to find a property where pets are welcome, tenants resort to desperate measures, such as giving up their pet or keeping it a secret – which never is a good idea!

In fact, today’s rental market is quite competitive as it is, and many tenants are facing difficulties finding the right place for the right price let alone adding a pet into the equation.

Why is this?    Because some Landlords fear that if they rent out their property to Tenants with pets it will result in property damage and financial consequences. Try to walk in the Landlords’ shoes and understand why they hold this opinion.  Some previous negative experiences may be involved. Landlords may have dealt with irresponsible people, who neglected the rules of keeping their pets in a household and did not fix damage caused by their pets when they moved out.

What to do?    A Tenant knows their valued family pet is well behaved but to overcome the bias of a Landlord, they need to put in a bit more work than Tenants without pets. They need to provide the Landlord with evidence that their pet will not cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to their rental property. So it is a good idea to have proof that they are a responsible pet owner when applying for a rental property. 

Such things as:

  • Pet references from previous landlords which includes details about how long the pet was in the property, the pet’s temperament, and that it didn’t cause any damage or noise disturbance for neighbours should be included in their application( has a feature called ‘Pet Resume’ that allows renters to create a ‘CV’ for their pets)
  • Copies of vaccination and registration certificates
  • Obedience training certificates
  • Photographs of the pet

The Law.    While changes to legislation over the past few years have clarified some of the grey areas in property management, the issue of pets is still not well regulated in comparison.  The Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997 Section 117 states only that “residents must not keep pet without consent.”  It is never a good idea for a Tenant to have a pet in a rental property without approval. A Tenant can be issued with:

  • A ‘Breach of Duty’ notice by the Landlord if a Tenant keeps a pet without permission or a pet that is causing damage or is being a nuisance
  • ‘Notice to Vacate’ immediately if their pet has been found to be endangering the safety of neighbours or
  • Attending the tribunal where the decision as to what will happen regarding the tenancy and the pet will be in the hands of the presiding member.

Make An Agreement.    A Tenant with pets needs to be prepared to sign a Pet Agreement.  It is highly recommended that a clear Agreement outlining the rights and responsibilities of a Tenant who wishes to keep pets at a rental property, be put in place upfront, to assist in avoiding any arguments between the Landlord and Tenant over pets down the track. The Agreement should specify exactly what the Tenant needs to do during and at the conclusion of the tenancy. 

Examples of what the Agreement should include are:     

  • The pet’s details – name, age, breed, colour
  • Ensuring that the pet does not become a nuisance or a safety issue to the neighbours
  • Obeying all local council laws
  • Keeping the pet outside
  • Dry cleaning the carpets
  • Repairing of any damage caused by the pet, including to doors, windows, lawns and gardens
  • Flea bombing the property on a regular basis

A copy of the Pet Agreement would need to be signed and dated by both parties and each would need to keep a copy for their records.

By signing the Pet Agreement, the Tenant demonstrates to the Landlord that they are a responsible pet owner and it might just sway them to change their mind about their “no pets’ policy”.

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Pets and Rentals