Renting with a pet (ACT)
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership, with some reports estimating that more than 60% of households include a pet. Despite this, traditionally, it has often been difficult for people who own pets to find rental properties that will accommodate their furry friends. Recently, there have been calls for changes to laws allowing landlords to disallow renting with a pet.
Rental laws in the ACT now can no longer completely ban pets
The Australian Capital Territory has been one part of the country where changes have been made to rental laws relating to pets, and these have now come into effect. The changes have been incorporated into the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Under these new laws, a tenancy agreement cannot completely prohibit pets. However, landlords can put a term in the agreement requiring tenants to first obtain permission before bringing pets onto the premises. If a tenant then seeks consent, a landlord must obtain approval of the ACT Civil and Administrative Authority (the Authority) before they can refuse to consent. A landlord has fourteen days in which to apply to the Authority after they receive a written request from a tenant. Where the rental agreement requires consent to be obtained, but you do not obtain it and keep a pet on the property, you could be found to be in breach of the agreement.
Upon what grounds can renting with a pet be refused?
Reasons the Authority may approve a request from a landlord to exclude a pet from a rental property include that:
- The pet would likely cause unreasonable damage to the property;
- The property is unsuitable for the pet;
- Keeping the pet on the premises would cause the landlord to suffer significant hardship;
- The pet would be a risk to public health and safety; and
- Keeping the pet would be contrary to law
Renters do not need to seek permission if the lease does not specifically mention pets
Renters can move in with a pet without having to first obtain the consent of the landlord if there is no provision in the lease about pets.
Advertisement must state that consent for keeping a pet will need to be sought
When advertising a property, the landlord must state in the advertisement if tenants at the property will be required to seek consent to keep a pet.
Imposing conditions on renting with a pet
A landlord can impose conditions related to the keeping of a pet on their property during a tenancy. If these conditions are reasonable, relating to things such as reasonable cleaning relating to pets, they are not required to seek approval from the Authority to do so. However, if they want to impose other conditions relating to pets, they will be required to seek approval from the Authority. A tenant can also apply to the Authority where they feel conditions imposed upon by the landlord are unreasonable.
Damage, noise and nuisance
A tenant is responsible for any damage that their animal causes to the rental property. They are also liable where the animal causes excessive noise or other nuisance to the neighbours. An example of nuisance is where a pet enters your neighbour’s property and causes damage to their plants. For these reasons, it is important when choosing a rental property to consider whether the property is suitable for a pet, e.g. if a dog has a tendency to bark loudly and for long periods at night consider how far away are the neighbours’ properties and whether the noise will travel that far.
Pet bonds, an extra bond charged specifically relating to the keeping of a pet at a property, are not allowed in the ACT.
Further inspections cannot be carried out
A landlord cannot insist that they carry out more inspections due to the fact that a tenant is renting with a pet.
Body Corporate Rules
If a person is residing in a unit or an apartment, they will be required to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and also the strata law which is contained in the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011. This law requires consent to be obtained before a pet can be kept on the premises. The body corporate cannot unreasonably withhold consent.
Renting with a pet that is an assistance animal
The laws under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 relating to pets do not apply to animals that are required to assist with a disability. The Discrimination Act 1991 prohibits discrimination based on a disability which means that a landlord cannot insist that an assistance animal not be kept at their rental property.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
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