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Top tips for renting with pets

By George Hadgelias

Millions of us are renters and millions of us are pet owners. But sometimes it’s not easy to be both. 

And while recently passed reforms to Victoria’s state tenancy laws will soon give all Victorian renters the right to live with a pet, not all pet-owning renters are quite so lucky. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out what the laws in your state have to say about this issue.)

Here’s how to find a pet-friendly apartment and win over your prospective landlord.

1. Talk to your landlord

It’s an obvious thing to do, but many renters don’t do it – especially when a property listing says “no pets allowed”.

However, previous surveys revealed that tenants who broached the topic of pets with their landlords were much more likely to get a favourable outcome.

So, don’t be discouraged: Ask the question, but remember to respect the answer.

Trend: Pet-friendly rentals are in high demand

2. Offer more rent

Pet-phobic landlords and property managers are also more likely to relent on their restrictions when tenants offer to pay more rent.

So, if you have a few spare dollars and are willing to pay above the listed rent to guarantee a home for your pets, then make that clear to your property manager. It could be the difference between a yes and a no.

3. Prepare pet references

It’s not unreasonable for a landlord to seek assurances that every inhabitant of their property will treat it with due care.

And while we can’t have pets sign on the dotted line, we can provide details and context about our pets, so that a property manager feels confident about letting them move in.

Create a pet reference that includes the pet’s age, temperament and vaccinations history, and attach a recent photograph, to pull at their heartstrings.

You may also want to include character references from a previous property manager, vet or anyone who can credibly speak to your pet’s behaviour.

Good news: Landlords say yes to pets

4. Keep thorough records

Retain vaccination certificates, vet receipts and other pet paperwork, so that you can easily produce them if required.

It’s also worth regularly sharing these with your property manager, to give them peace of mind about your pet’s health and status.

Making the effort will remind them you are a caring renter and pet owner.

5. Pets-eye view

Think of your furry friend.

Would you want to live in a one-bedroom apartment with no backyard if you were a dog?

Your property search should be suitable for you and your pet. Keeping it within certain parameters will also increase the likelihood that your application will be accepted.

6. Have a trial period

If your landlord or property manager is not fully convinced, ask if they would be willing to lease the property to you on a trial basis.

They can see how your pet is doing in the property, and you can make adjustments to the lease as required.

7. Choose carefully

If you are already in a rental property and thinking about getting a pet, be aware of the space around you.

In smaller spaces, a goldfish is a better idea than a golden retriever.

8. Get agreements in writing

If you agree to pay a little more to have your pet, or are trialling it out for a short period, get these agreed terms in writing.

If there is any confusion or disputes down the track, everyone can defer to those documents.

You can also draw up a separate pet agreement outlining all terms and your responsibilities.

9. Commit to clean

Offer to remove all trace of your pet’s presence when you leave.

While you are already obligated to clean a property when you depart, providing further commitments to deep clean carpets, treat for fleas and deodorise might be enough to get your pet over the threshold.

Finally, remember that it’s not always the landlord’s decision. Strata and communal laws may prohibit or restrict animals in a property, even if the landlord gives their blessings.

Laws for renting with pets in Australia

  • ACT: the State government passed new laws in February to allow renters to keep pets without their landlord’s consent. Under these new laws, landlords will have to seek permission from ACAT to refuse a request for a pet.
  • NSW: there’s nothing in the state’s Residential Tenancies Act that says you can’t have a pet, but landlords can insert their own pet-preventing clauses into leasing agreements, and NSW Fair Trading recommends seeking permission from your landlord before letting your furry friends move in.
  • NT: there is no specific legislation relating to pets and tenancies, and it is up to the landlord as to whether they’ll allow you to keep one. They may have a ‘no pet clause’ in the lease agreement – in which case you’ll either need to negotiate with them or appeal to NTCAT for the clause to be removed – but pet bonds are illegal.
  • QLD: the state government is expected this year to introduce reforms to its tenancy act that would allow all renters to keep a pet. However, under the current legislation, renters must seek written approval from their landlords to keep a pet in their property, with the state’s Residential Tenancies Authority estimating that only 10% of landlords allow tenants to live with pets.
  • SA: renters in South Australia must seek permission from their landlords to keep a pet, with many only granting approval on the basis that renters agree to certain conditions.
  • TAS: like their South Australian counterparts, Tasmanian renters can only live with a pet if the landlord has granted them permission, or if it is allowed in the lease. Landlords often require pet owners to pay for fumigation at the end of the lease, too.
  • VIC: as mentioned earlier, recently passed tenancy laws in Victoria will soon make it much easier for renters to live with their pets. Landlords will still need to give their permission, but the new laws will make it very difficult for them to refuse.
  • WA: renters in Western Australia can only keep pets if their landlord consents and the pet is mentioned in the lease. Landlords can also charge a pet bond of up to $260, to cover the cost of cleaning and fumigating when you move out.

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