If you’ve never considered allowing a pet in your property before, there’s no need to fret now. Tenants are well within their rights to ask if it is allowable. While reforms are making it easier for tenants to own pets while living in a rental property, landlords are still required to be a part of the decision-making process, and rightly so.
Of course, there are practical reasons that may influence your decision to allow/deny pets. Space and accessibility may be a concern, such as a unit complex that doesn’t exactly speak home for a large dog. There may be emotional reasons, such as a fear of animals damaging the property or causing a disruption to neighbours. There may even been legal reasons involving body corporate rules.
There has been a lot more traction in recent years pushing to give tenants the rights to allow pets in their properties. Queensland is undergoing major reforms to the Tenancy Act, and as part of these reforms, the state government is looking at pet ownership within rentals. As it stands, landlords must give permission and are able to refuse requests. There are no laws in New South Wales that prohibit pet ownership, but the landlord’s consent is required and can be included as an optional term within the tenancy agreement. In 2019, changes to Victoria’s Tenancy Act allowed tenants greater flexibility in pet ownership; a landlord’s permission is still required, but it is more difficult to refuse pets without grounds.
You’re well in your rights to be concerned but allowing your tenants to have pets may have its benefits. If suddenly your long-standing tenant requests a dog, and if you’ve had no concerns with their tenancy prior, chances are they will continue to take good care of your property just as they had done so previously.
Given the lack of pet-friendly rental options, it is likely those that are pet-friendly will be sought after. Tenants may even be willing to pay a little extra to secure the right property and be less likely to move in future. In order to keep a secure property long-term for the sake of their pets, pet owners are more likely to be responsible tenants, not only maintaining the security of the house, but also ensuring it remains clean and un-damaged.
Changes in relation to the Act might seem daunting but given that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership, and the supply of pet-friendly rentals is far below the demand for them, it may just be an option worth considering.
If you’re unsure of what to do next, speak to your property manager about your concerns.