Renting with pets

02 Nov 2018

As the dream of home-ownership remains out of reach for many, people are increasingly renting for longer periods. Renting is no longer a stepping stone between moving out of home and buying your own place.

In fact, there has been a steady increase in people renting for more than ten years. States like Victoria now recognise this growing segment of the market and have recently passed laws which give tenants more rights, such as the ability to hang pictures on walls and keep pets.

Renting with pets can be pretty difficult. In most states and territories of Australia, landlords can refuse pets on their property, meaning tenants have to choose another property or relinquish their pet.

RSPCA Victoria state that more than 1-in-5 pets that come through their doors are because tenants haven’t been able to secure accommodation which will take their animal. It was for this reason, among others, that the Victorian government passed their new laws.

Renting with pets in different states and territories  

Each state and territory of Australia has different laws regarding pets in rental properties. This makes it complicated for tenants and landlords to navigate, with many states having different laws which govern strata properties (e.g. units) from single-title dwellings (e.g. houses).

In the ACT, for example, a strata property can’t unreasonably withhold permission to keep a pet, but a landlord of a house can still refuse pets. This creates a strange situation where you can have a pet in a unit, but not necessarily a house. More information on whether you can rent with a pet or not in your state can be found here.

Why allowing tenants to rent with pets is important

Allowing tenants to rent with pets is important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows long-term renters to experience the benefits of pet ownership without the cost imposition of owning a property.

It is unreasonable to expect that the only people who will own pets will be those who can afford to buy a property. Secondly, allowing people to rent with pets reduces the number of animals that are abandoned and consequently enter animal shelters.

Although 1-in-5 Victorian shelter animals are the result of non-pet friendly accommodation, it is likely these statistics are replicated around the country. Potentially tens of thousands of animals are surrendered every year due to insecure accommodation.

Ultimately, if pets damage a property, this damage can be claimed from a tenant’s bond. Additionally, most states allow landlords to include a ‘fumigation’ clause in the rental contract to prevent parasite infestations. Some real-estate companies have actually come out in support of allowing pets in rentals, as the tenants tend to be more loyal and stay in properties longer

The move to make rentals pet-friendly in Victoria is a welcome one. Pets bring joy to the lives of many people, and it is heartbreaking for people to have to surrender their pets because of an inability to find suitable accommodation.

Increasing the availability of accommodation that takes pets throughout Australia will be positive for both human and animal welfare.

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