August 25, 2016
Owning a pet is a popular choice in Australia. In fact almost two thirds (63 per cent) of Australian households have a pet..
Yet landlords and tenants are in a pickle of sorts when it comes to pets in rental properties.
“Most property owners do not permit tenants to keep a pet in their property. Landlords understandably worry about the potential damage a pet such as a dog or cat might do to their valuable investment,” explains Jellis Craig Boroondara General Manager, Property Management, Sophie Lyon.
At the same time, landlords want happy tenants and to minimise a constant turnover of tenants in their property. Allowing pets significantly broadens the pool of interested tenants and may improve tenant security. According to recent research, “households with pets stayed in rental properties longer than those that did not have pets.” From this perspective, allowing pets may bring longer-term, more secure rent to property owners.
“The real challenge for both parties centres around insurance,” explains Sophie. “There is no landlord’s insurance policy that covers damage caused by a pet. This means that even if landlords are happy to allow tenants to have a pet, it can mean they may not be able to claim any damage caused on their insurance.”
There are options for property owners wishing to consider allowing pets. These may include requiring a higher bond amount, including additional pet-specific clauses in the lease and even requesting ‘pet references’ from a local veterinarian.
“We always suggest discussing the issue of pets with your property manager, who may be able to enter negotiations with tenants to achieve a workable outcome.”
“Despite the available options, the issue of pets in rental properties remains generally vexed,” says Sophie. “This issue is being considered as part of the review of the Residential Tenancies Act, which is currently underway. Both landlords and tenants deserve more clarity and protection when it comes to having a pet in a rental property,” says Sophie.
“We need specific outcomes that are more considerate of tenants’ lifestyles while at the same time offering landlords a high level of assurance about their property and any risk to its condition.”
“The RTA review is looking closely at this issue with a view to introducing changes. There is recognition across the industry that the current situation is unworkable for both landlords and tenants alike.”