Having a pet in a rental property can be a bone of contention between landlords and tenants. Here’s what both sides need to know about having pets in apartments and how to negotiate.
Allowing pets in rental properties has long been contentious for both landlords and tenants. Here, we take a look at what to consider about having pets in apartments, how the strata laws are changing and how tenants and landlords can reach an agreement on pets.
Pets And Rental Properties: What’s The Issue?
Australia is a nation of pet-lovers, with research suggesting that 63% of households have pets. But the desire to own a pet can become a challenge in rentals, when some landlords don’t want pets due to the potential for property damage and a possible reduction in value of the dwelling.
For tenants who already have pets, this can make it difficult to find a home. RSPCA NSW reports regularly hearing from pet owners who have trouble finding a property and believe the demand for rentals means they’ll be less likely to be chosen from the list of applicants if they have pets.
However, not all pets cause problems in rentals and it is possible to find a solution that works for everyone.
Houses And Apartments: What To Look For In A Pet-Friendly Property
Tenants looking for a pet-friendly property should think carefully about the type of home that would be suitable for their pet. Managing the noise levels with neighbours, caring for the property and making sure the pet has access to outdoor spaces are all essential for a positive tenancy with a pet.
Consider the type of flooring the dwelling has (for example, floorboards scratch easily but vinyl is more durable), how much yard space there is and how close the property is to the neighbours. Tenants in houses also need to be mindful of damage that dogs might cause to gardens, gates or fences.
It is generally easier to meet these requirements in houses than it is in an apartment complex. In addition, there are specific issues pet owners might face in apartments, such as:
- Strata: Strata by-laws which may have certain rules on pets in the building.
- The Type Of Pet: Large dogs may cause more problems in apartments than smaller dogs, as they need more space and may have higher exercise requirements. Researching dogs that need less physical activity is helpful in choosing a suitable pet for apartments. RSPCA NSW has a list here.
- Outdoor Spaces: Keeping pets inside all the time can be problematic, so consider if the pet could go on a balcony or be able to look out windows.
- Close Proximity To Other Apartments: Pets making too much noise or causing a nuisance to neighbours can place you in breach of your tenancy agreement.
How Tenants And Landlords Can Negotiate Pets In Rental Properties
It is of course possible for both the landlord and tenant to reach an agreement they’re each happy with when it comes to pets. This often comes down to negotiating terms and providing additional information about the pet. Some ways to negotiate include:
- Providing or requesting pet CVs with information about the pet.
- Providing or requesting references from previous landlords, vets or trainers.
- A written declaration that the tenant will pay for any damages caused by the pet, bearing in mind that it is not lawful for landlords or agents to ask tenants to pay an additional pet bond in NSW.
- An agreement that the landlord can inspect the property to check for damage.
- Pet proofing of the property.
- For dogs, proof that it passed obedience training.
New Strata Laws For Pets In Rentals
Where previous laws allowed owners’ corporations to ban pets in strata buildings, strata reform announced in 2016 aimed to make it easier for residents to have pets. In the new by-laws, residents would still need to ask the owners’ corporation for permission to have a pet, but the corporation can’t unreasonably refuse. Each case would be considered separately and owners can challenge a refusal they feel is unreasonable.
It’s worth noting that the strata by-laws focus on allowing pets in the building, but tenants would still need their landlord’s permission. The new by-law is also a suggestion and the owners’ corporation can choose to adopt it or change it. Find out more about the changes to strata laws here.
If you’re a tenant or landlord who needs help with pets in a rental property, get in touch with our team of specialists today.