News

Update – Residential Tenancies Act – Pets

On 1 November 2019 changes to the Residential Tenancies Act come into effect. This post summarises the changes relating to the keeping of pets.

This change aims to make it easier for tenants to keep pets in rental properties. Whilst that is the intention, landlords still have the right to refuse a pet if they have acceptable grounds for that refusal.

In line with this change, we will be including a new pet clause into all new tenancy agreements that will comply with the legislation and will require a tenant to seek permission to keep a pet in the property.
We have setup an online form where tenants can make a request to keep a pet at the property. Upon receiving the request we will review and act according to the owners instructions.

Whilst a number of owners are more than happy to accept pets, we feel that this clause is important so that the owner always has the opportunity to refuse the request to keep a pet of the grounds are reasonable. If no clause is present, then a tenant may keep a pet without the landlords consent.

  • A tenant cannot keep a pet without permission from the landlord. Except in the circumstance where a tenancy agreement does not have a provision relating to pets.
  • A tenancy agreement cannot prohibit the keeping of pets completely
  • A landlord can refuse consent for a pet with the approval of ACAT
  • Reasons for approving a owners refusal for the keeping of a pet may include
    • The property is unsuitable for the animal
    • The keeping of an animal would result in unreasonable damage to the property
    • Keeping the animal would present an unacceptable risk to public health and safety
    • Keeping the animal on the property would suffer significant hardship
    • Keeping the animal would be contrary to the law

For those with strata properties, the owners corporation consent is still required for pets. However, the owners corporation cannot unreasonably withhold consent. It should be noted that a landlord cannot deny the right to keep an assistance animal if the tenant has a disability.
Landlord may impose reasonable conditions upon the tenant if they approve the keeping of a pet. Examples of reasonable conditions may include: the number of pets that may be kept, cleaning and maintenance of the property. If the landlord feels that other conditions should be applicable, then approval must be sought of the Tribunal.
Landlords are not permitted to impose a Pet Bond. However, tenants are responsible to rectify any damage to the property caused by a pet. As we know, the Bond lodged at the beginning of the tenancy is not always enough to cover damages by tenants or their pets. And we also know from experience that recovering costs is an arduous process. We strongly recommend that landlords maintain landlords insurance.

What are Reasonable Grounds for Refusal?

We can’t be sure what the Tribunal will decide on any particular application. However, we can make an educated guess as to what would be considered as reasonable. The property must be suitable for the animal, so if a tenant in a one bedroom high rise unit requested to keep a very large dog, or a very energetic dog, it may be reasonable to deny that request. If the owner of the property has a serious, medically documented allergy to a specific animal then refusal to allow that animal into the property may be accepted.