Barking up the right tree: A guide to renting with pets in Australia

Barking up the right tree: A guide to renting with pets in Australia
Barking up the right tree: A guide to renting with pets in Australia

New South Wales has finally ended blanket bans on pets in apartments, following in the footsteps of Queensland and the ACT.

Victoria made some progress last year, although not to the same extent with reforms preventing landlords from unreasonably restricting pets. The Northern Territory is following suit.

South Australia has pet agreements, required for any lease, allowing pets with ground rules in place for property maintenance and management.

Western Australia has a $260 pet bond, to be taken when a pet is named on the lease for fumigation at vacancy, Tasmania has a similar system albeit without the bond.

The NSW’s reforms are related to strata title, as until these changes, most strata titles included a blanket pet ban. Historically NSW has had the most complex regulations surrounding pets and strata. 

Now instead of strata laws, it’s owners corporations and landlords. The NSW government has said they can still refuse to keep an animal if there is “repeated damage of the common property, menacing behaviour, persistent noise and odour.”

Owners corporations will also have the right to set conditions about how pets are kept, such as requiring supervision on common property or while entering and exiting an entrance or lift.

The government says these conditions must be “reasonable”, but there are currently NO guidelines.

Some actions such as restricting the size of a home's pet, not uncommon in the past, were found in a report prepared as part of the NSW legislation review to be unreasonable. However, this is not specified in the law that was passed.

Close to 2.5 million Australians are living in apartments and a third of Australian households rent their homes. So with the number of renter’s rising in the wake of property prices continuing to outpace wage growth, there is a need for consistent, equitable and pet-supportive housing rental policies across the country.

With such inconsistencies across Australia, and changes only finally occurring in the past 2-3 years, there is a lot of uncertainty for renters and pets often become the victim, as more than 60% of households include a pet.

Pets are part of the family, and this he been demonstrated over and over, especially during lockdown with mental health studies and surveys demonstrating the benefits of an animal on mental health

Dogs are the best examples of this, shown to increase daily exercise across all age groups.

There are even benefits for landlords, with US research suggesting that households with pets stayed in rental properties longer than those that did not have pets. This brings longer-term, more secure rent to property owners. 

In spite of this as recently as 2018/19 pet bans have been sweeping and widespread in many rental properties, apartment buildings in particular are the biggest offender. 

Emma Power of WSU during a 2016 survey found,” that pet ownership can trigger feelings of housing insecurity for Sydney’s renter households.”

Roughly half of those surveyed who declared their pets when they applied for properties had been given pet ownership as the reason their application was rejected.

Mrs Powers said, these figures are likely to represent only a small proportion of those who have been rejected for pet ownership as reasons for rejection are rarely provided.

Most doggedly concerned landlords are simply barking up the wrong tree with many studies showing that the majority of landlords who worried about pets had zero first hand experience with such problems. Even when damage occurred it was significantly less than the average deposit, or pet-bond.

Jordan Fidler

Jordan Fidler

Jordan is a journalist at Urban.com.au. His focus is shining a spotlight on some of Australia's best apartment developments and their features

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Pet rental Dogs Cats Strata Law

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