Renting With a Pet (Vic)
Victorian residential tenancy law is a little more favourable to those who intend renting with a pet than the laws of other states. The governing legislation is the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. Changes were made to this legislation with respect to pets in March 2020. Now landlords cannot prevent a person from renting with a pet unless it is reasonable to do so. A landlord who wants to bar a tenant from keeping a pet must obtain an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) confirming there are reasonable grounds for this to be done.
Consent required prior to renting with a pet
Tenants who intent renting with a pet must first obtain the consent of their landlord, which, as noted above, cannot be unreasonably withheld. If a tenant keeps a pet on rented premises without the landlord’s consent, the landlord may apply to the Tribunal for an order to have the pet removed from the premises. Alternatively, they may advise the tenant that they wish to terminate the lease on the basis that they have breached the lease agreement.
Obtaining consent for renting with a pet
To obtain consent from a landlord to keep a pet, a tenant must provide the landlord with a pet request form. A landlord has fourteen days from the day they receive this notice to apply to the Tribunal for an order that renting with a pet at the premises would be unreasonable. If the landlord does not apply to the Tribunal within this timeframe, they are taken to have consented to the keeping of a pet.
The Tribunal can make an order that:
- Refusing to allow a pet is reasonable and the pet must not be kept on the rental premises; or
- The pet can be kept by the tenant on the rental property.
The matters that the Tribunal can take into account when deciding whether or not keeping a pet at the premises is reasonable are:
- What type of animal the tenant wishes to keep;
- What type of property the residential property is;
- The features of the property such as fixtures, fittings and appliances;
- Whether there are other applicable laws relating to pets such as local council laws;
- Anything else the Tribunal believes is relevant.
Placing restrictions on renting with a pet
A landlord may consent to your keeping a pet but may want to place conditions on their consent. For example, they may want you to keep your pet exclusively outside. A landlord can negotiate these terms with the tenant. If parties cannot agree, then the landlord will need to apply to the Tribunal to exclude the pet from the premises.
A landlord is not allowed to charge a tenant a separate pet bond upon commencement of a residential tenancy agreement or lease.
Damage, noise or nuisance
A tenant’s pet is their responsibility. If the pet damages the rental property, the tenant will be liable to pay for repairs. If your pet disturbs your neighbours by being excessively noisy or being a nuisance by entering and destroying plants in their yards the tenant could be found to be in breach of their tenancy agreement. So, it is important to take care when choosing a rental property and find one that will be suitable for the pet.
Pets in apartments and units
If a person is renting an apartment or unit, the owners corporation may have rules relating to keeping pets in the common areas of the building.
Renting with a pet that is an assistance animal
Animals that are required for assistance due to a disability are not considered to be pets under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997. Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, a person cannot be refused the right to keep an assistance animal with them in a rental property.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.