Renting With a Pet (NSW)
Pet ownership rates in Australia are among the highest in the world. Some statistics suggest that three in five households in Australia keep a pet. However, despite this, landlords are often not willing to allow renting with a pet and can refuse to allow an animal to live on a rental property. Some have called for this to be changed in recent times. This is because pets, by many, are considered so essential to good mental health and well-being.
The legislation and residential tenancy agreements
The legislation which covers residential tenancies in New South Wales is the Residential Tenancies Act (2010). Nothing in this Act prevents a tenant from renting with a pet that is kept at their residence.
However, the majority of residential tenancy agreements contain clauses relating to pet ownership. Most leases have a term stating that pets are not allowed to be kept on the premises.
Most lease agreements also require tenants to obtain permission from their landlord before introducing a pet onto the property during the term of a lease. A tenant may breach their lease or residential tenancy agreement if they do not comply with these terms.
When a person rents in a strata scheme, there may also be by-laws about the keeping of pets. The landlord must provide the tenant with the by-laws for the building within seven days of their moving in.
Under section 139(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 a by-law must not be “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”. Some people have used this section to challenge by-laws that prevent pet ownership.
Damage and professional cleaning
When an owner allows renting with a pet, the tenant is responsible for any damage that is done to the property by their pet during the term of the lease. Usually, terms that require tenants to have their premises professionally cleaned or fumigated are invalid according to the law in New South Wales. However, there is sometimes an exception to this where a tenant has been allowed to keep a pet. In this situation, the tenant may be required to pay for these additional cleaning costs.
Noise and nuisance
A tenant who is renting with a pet will be responsible for any noise or nuisance that the pet causes to neighbours. A tenant can be found to have breached their tenancy agreement if their pet causes too much disruption. What is considered too much noise or nuisance will depend on the circumstances.
If a tenant’s pet escapes from the property and wanders onto another person’s property, the tenant may also be found liable for nuisance. So, it is a good idea to make sure all parts of the property that are required for the pet being kept safely on the premises are in good order.
Landlord’s access when a tenant is renting with a pet
If a landlord visits their premises while being aware that the tenant is keeping a pet, and does something that harms the animal, they may be liable for that harm. An example of harm would be where a pet escapes due to the landlord leaving a gate open during their visit.
A pet bond is a separate bond to the one paid at the beginning of the tenancy. Its purpose is to account for the damage that may be done to the property by a pet. A landlord may ask a tenant to provide such a bond when you decide to take a pet on the premises with you. It is important to know that these bonds are not lawful in New South Wales.
Renting with a pet that assists with a disability
The Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) makes it illegal for a landlord or strata to disallow a tenant to keep an assistance animal at their residence. If you are denied the right to keep an assistance animal with you, you may be able to make a complaint through the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales or the Australian Human Rights Commission.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.