New Laws For Tenants And Their Pets

Contributed By: Nick Buick on

Under new rules announced on the weekend by the Andrews government, tenants in Victoria will now access a raft of new rights and liberties at the expense of landlords and managers.

Among such new laws, landlords are no longer allowed to solicit for higher bids above the advertised rental price on a listing. Bonds will be shrunk to no more than 4 weeks (which is the same as in QLD). Landlords will also be unable to issue a notice to leave at the conclusion of a lease, without a specific reason. By far the biggest shake-up, however, comes in the form of changes to the law that allow all tenants to keep a pet in the property. This includes high rise units and apartments! Tenants do still need to seek ‘permission’ to have the pet, but the only grounds of refusal available to landlords is if the body corporate bans pets or the local council bans the specific pet (such as chickens).

One would have thought, rather obviously, that keeping a large dog locked in a small unit all day has the potential to reek absolute havoc in the building. The damage such an animal can inflict on doors, walls, blinds and floors during a lease period can chew through 4 weeks bond very easily, and with a ban on seeking more bond, there seems not much a landlord can do about it. It will be interesting to see what sort of affect this has on the price of land-lord insurance, but we can only assume it will rise significantly with the introduction of these new laws.

The RSPCA said over the past two years, 15 per cent of the dogs and cats turned in to them were surrendered because the owners were moving and could not take their pets. This is a sad statistic, but ultimately tenants should he responsible enough not to purchase pets while living in unsuitable accommodation for them. It shouldn’t be the landlord who has to pick up the tab here.

The REIV has said they are concerned the new laws will force the cost of rent up and that landlords are being left exposed throughout the process. It seems obvious this will be the outcome and that the result will leave tenants paying even more for rent than they already are in Victoria.

In Queensland, we’ve already seen QCAT overturn body corporate bans on pets declaring them unreasonable. The only thing preventing apartment buildings from becoming overrun with cats and dogs is lease agreements in the Smart State. If similar laws were introduced here in Queensland, the results could be catastrophic within high-density accommodation.

 

14 Comments

  1. Can not agree more!
    Pets in Units are mostly a nightmare.
    Dog and cat hair/odour left behind for months even after a good Bond clean, scratching, blinds used as climbing posts, toileting on the grass verge out the front-killing off the lawn and owners often ignoring the mess left behind, barking when their owners are not home. The list goes on……
    Totally the wrong place to have a pet animal.
    I have the experience of it- I am an offsite building and rental manager for nine complexes.

  2. “changes to the law that allow all tenants to keep a pet in the property. This includes high rise units and apartments! Tenants do still need to seek ‘permission’ to have the pet, but the only grounds of refusal available to landlords is if the body corporate bans pets”

    This statement is contradictory. Tenants do not need to seek permission to have pets, but then you say the only grounds of refusal is if the BC bans pets? So which is it pets are a slam dunk or the process is the same whereby a BC can ban pets?

  3. I think that this kind of laws stinks . We will seek damages to the state government if anything happen to our investments.. We had witnessed in the past what a dog could and will do in any one property . Owners should have a meeting with this Government . As this a policy on the run . We owners are spending thousands and paying insurance on top . Enough of policies on the run Mr Andrews

  4. I struggle to see government bodies not doing things for self interest. In one hand the notification time given to a remnant to access the property is to short. Especially, considering more people work away from home for weeks. And then force landlords to allow pets? Laws seem to swing from end to the other. What happen to the middle.

  5. I don’t quite understand why it seems that tenancy laws are continually being tweaked in favour of tenants. Who will supply living accommodation to people who cannot afford to buy their own property if landlords around the nation say ‘it’s too hard, I give up’ and sell? Investors selling their property is not going to equate to more ‘home ownership’, as seems to be the catch cry of all politicians over the last 2 years. I seriously hope our Qld pollies don’t take a leaf out of Andrews’ policy book.

  6. I think this is FANTASTIC! We are renters and find it very difficult to find pet friendly rentals. I must admit we have a 9 year old lady Shih Tzu fully grown at 9kg’s, and yes I say lady as she is so well house trained and has never made a mishap in the house. Even with reference letters from previous owners we still get asked for more Bond down payment when we do find a house. I’m sure we leave the houses cleaner with our dog, than what some humans would on their own! I have noticed that some adds state dog under 10kg’s with approval would this apply to the new law?

    1. Author

      I guess the optimum word here is “house”. A well behaved, mature, small dog, in a house, with a garden, is probably not such a big deal. In fact I allow my tenants to keep dogs in all my rental houses – and they’ve never caused any sort of problem… the extra rent you get from pet friendly listings is a bonus too. The problem is these laws don’t specify houses – they blanket all accommodation, including apartments with absolutely no outdoor areas. They also don’t set any limits on the size of the dog nor do they make additional pet bond possible.

      The reason some ads claim dogs under 10kg is often because that is what is set out in the body corporate bylaws. Such bylaws are actually unenforceable – as an owner, you can keep any sized dog you want in a community title scheme, even if there is a complete blanket ban on pets in the complex. But this applies to owners, not tenants. The lease agreement between the tenant and owner will generally include whatever bylaws exist between the owner and body corporate, be they enforceable or not.

  7. I’m a tenant and I don’t want to hear next door’s puppy howling all day, when the owner goes to work. The dog goes quiet as soon as owner returns, and owner says the dog is “well behaved” , and “can’t see a problem”. My experience is that dog owners are irresponsible, and cannot see that it is they, the owner, who is the problem. Bogan with a stereo = dog owner.

  8. What can landlords do when tenants lie on reference which states they were never late on rent and the place was always neat and well kept, (then found out it was her son we spoke to on the phone and he is in school.) found out tenant was evicted which took months of non payment and house was thrashed? Is there any thing regarding misleading info on reference.

    1. Author

      You should always run tenants through a screening database. If they’ve skipped out on rent, had judgements against them, even had bad credit history, VEDA will weed them out. This, combined with reference checks and gut-instinct will hopefully separate the wheat from the chaff.

  9. I get your generalizing but there are plenty of big breeds of dogs that are far more calm than many little breeds. Basing the decision on breed, references, possible training certificates would be a lot more reliable. Also if your worried about what a dog will do and have issues with pets, then definitely dont lease a house or unit to a young family and most kids do far more damage than what a dog or cat will. While i get landlords are concerned about pets its usually to a ridiculous level.

  10. It would be wonderful to see similar laws passed in QLD, not all pet owners are irresponsible by any means. A child or adult is capable of causing just as much damage as an animal but that doesn’t mean they will.

    I think that reasonable consideration should be taken by all landlords on an application basis. Small hairless breeds that are well behaved pose no threat to a rental property.

    Some of the comments here in favour of rental property owners have little foresight and are based on personal experience by the sound of it.

    Take into consideration that the very reason renters are unable to buy a home is because the market is overrun by investment buyers.

    It really doesn’t cost much more to own as what it does to rent, if any difference at all. Low income earners are not likely considered for home loans because lenders know that investment buyers are dominating the market and they would rather lend to the wealthy than a hard working low income earner who is quite capable of making the repayments.

    If there were less investment buyers out there than lenders would certainly consider lower income earners as a result.

    To put salt in the wound even more and refuse pets to renters in completely unreasonable. The introduction of pet bonds across the board and careful consideration on application can open up the rental market further and keep good tenants in your property for longer.

    Food for thought.

  11. Author

    Lenders *can’t* consider low income earners – if they did they would be accused of “predatory lending”. Banks don’t make the rules on who they are allowed to lend money to APRA do.
    The laws in Victoria make no distinction between “small hairless breeds” and the rest.
    The bottom line is, if a property is owned by someone, they should have a right to decide who, and what, resides at it.

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