Keeping a pet at a rental property
Australia has one of the highest rates of household pet ownership in the world, with 61 percent of households having a pet.
It is little wonder then, that in a high rental state like Queensland that there’s a correspondingly high demand for pet friendly accommodation. In QLD 40 percent of households have a dog, 27 percent have a cat and 12 percent have both. Pets have become our companions and are considered by many as ‘part of the family’. (How many pets are there in Australia?, 2020)
Over the recent years one of the main reasons people surrender their pets to the RSPCA is due to the owners moving house, or having changed living arrangements, which includes moving into rental properties where pets were not allowed.
Given the demand for pet friendly premises in the rental market, it is surprising that only about 10 percent of Queensland’s rental properties allow pets. The usual response from property managers/owners for disallowing pets is that they will cause damage to the property/gardens and attract pets (like fleas).
Current legislation requires tenants to get written permission in their tenancy agreement to have a pet in their rental property and it stipulates that the tenants are also responsible for any damage to the property caused by pets. The special clause can also stress that tenants must have the property fumigates and the carpets professionally cleaned at the end of their tenancy.
In 2019 the Queensland Government announced a reform to Queensland’s tenancy laws to ensure the rental needs of Queenslanders are met. The ability for a tenant to keep a pet in a rental property was the most discussed topic in the Open Doors to Renting Reform consultation, accounting for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of responses across all channels.
Allowing pets in rental properties was the most popular suggestion from tenants on what changes to tenancy law overall would improve their renting experience however there were diverse views on the topic between tenants and owners. Many tenants argued passionately to be allowed to keep pets so their rental properties would feel more like home and would better support their overall health and wellbeing. Many suggested that tenants should be able to have a pet without the property owner’s permission, while others indicated that they would be willing to agree to certain conditions to be allowed to keep a pet. Seventy-five percent of respondents to a snap poll agreed that ‘pet bonds’ would make it easier to keep pets in rental properties. (The reform process | Renting in Queensland, 2021)
The upside of saying YES to pets - Some landlords are quite reluctant to accept any prospective tenants who come with pets, and they have a right to, it is their property after all. However, the main upside of considering/accepting a pet is that you will gain a significant competitive advantage over other rental properties on the market. Pet-friendly rentals are few and far between, so allowing the option for a tenant to bring along their pet companion will result in a much higher demand for your property. Bearing in mind that the pet will need to be suitable for the property. E.g. you wouldn't have a German Shepard in a 1-bedroom apartment. Your property manager will help in considering the suitability of the pet for your property.
Owners, If you are considering a pet at your rental property, speak with your property manager before making a decision so you have a full understanding of your rights and the tenants responsibilities when housing a pet at your property.
Tenants, if you are looking for a property and are finding it difficult to be accepted due to having a pet, get creative! Send through photos of your pets, reference statements on the pets behaviour and temperament, all of this information may help you in securing a new home for you and your companion.
For more information:
RSPCA. 2020. How many pets are there in Australia?. [online] Available at: <https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-many-pets-are-there-in-australia/> [Accessed 2 February 2021].
Your Say Housing and Public Works. 2021. The reform process | Renting in Queensland. [online] Available at: <https://yoursayhpw.engagementhq.com/reform-process-renting-in-qld> [Accessed 2 February 2021].