Pets in properties: What you need to know

Australia certainly stands out as an animal-loving nation with some of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.

With around one-third of all households renting, what are the pros of a pet-friendly investment property?

And what are a landlord’s legal responsibilities?

Find out below…

A 2019 survey by Animal Medicines Australia found that 5.9 million households own a pet, and for those that don’t, over half would like to.

When asked what barriers prevent pet ownership, the main response was a lack of suitable housing.

In addition, the links between pet ownership and improved mental and physical health is now well documented.

As tenants, pet owners are often willing to pay a little more and lock in longer leases to secure a home for themselves and their fur-babies.

Yet only 10 percent of rental properties currently allow tenants to keep pets, leaving a significant gap in the market.

Some landlords are taking the plunge and discovering the advantages of including pet owners in their pool of prospective tenants.

For others, they may want to dip a toe rather than jump right in.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to ask for a ‘pet resume’ which can be used to help ease concerns about the risk of pet-related property damage.

Complete with photos, details of the pet’s size and breed, the resume acts as a reference check, providing landlords a sense of certainty when it comes to approving tenant requests for a four-legged friend.

As social attitudes are changing, so are the laws that outline the rights and responsibilities of landlords, property managers and tenants.

Some states have taken the lead and updated tenancy laws to allow for more open and honest communication about renting with pets.

This is what you need to know:

· VIC: On 2 March 2020, Victoria rolled out new laws which gave tenants the right to own a pet. Using pet request forms, existing and prospective tenants can put a case forward to be allowed a pet and landlords must not reasonably refuse. If a landlord is to refuse the request, they must submit that dispute to be heard by tribunal.

· NT: On 18 February 2020, the Northern Territory parliament passed a landmark amendment bill to give tenants the right to keep a pet by notifying their landlord in writing. If there is reasonable belief the landlord will suffer hardship, or the community is put at risk if the pet stays in the home, this can be challenged at tribunal.

· ACT: For landlords and property managers in the Australian Capital Territory, new laws came into effect on 1 November 2019 which prevented the exclusion of pets being written into leases. Each tenant’s request for a pet will now be handled on a case by case basis. Again, if a landlord wants to refuse the tenant’s request to have a pet, they will need to go to tribunal.

· QLD: A review into the Queensland’s tenancy act got underway late in 2019. Renting with pets was high on the agenda. Currently all tenants must get permission in writing as part of the tenancy agreement to have pets in a property.

For states that are yet to move on any changes, there are already some clear guidelines and protections in place for landlords who allow pets in their properties…

· SA: In South Australia, pet agreements are required for any lease that allows pets to lay out clear ground rules for property maintenance and management.

· WA: Western Australia is currently the only state to allow a pet bond to be taken when a pet is named on the lease. A sum of up to $260 can be held to pay for fumigation costs once a tenant vacates.

· TAS: If landlords in Tasmania allow pets, the tenant must also arrange for fumigation of the property at the end of the lease. Unlike Western Australia, a separate bond can’t be set aside for this, but it can be written as a condition of the rental agreement.

This article was written by the team at EBM RentCover and was originally published here. EBM RentCover is one of Australia’s leading landlord insurance providers, protecting more than 150,000 rental properties across Australia.

Jason Gwerder
Thursday, 30 July 2020

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