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Renting with a Pet (WA)

If a person plans on renting with a pet in Western Australia, this is something that they must negotiate with their landlord before they sign the rental agreement. The landlord can say no, and then no pet will be allowed to stay at a property.  Owners of pets often face uncertainty when they are required to move to a new rental property because there is a limited number of rental properties that will allow for pets. Many landlords do not like tenants keeping pets on their properties because they are concerned about the damage they can do.  However, some landlords are pet-friendly because they know that by being so they can attract tenants more quickly.

If a pet is allowed, this should be noted on the rental agreement.  The rental agreement should also specify the type of pet and whether it is to stay inside or outside.

Calls for changes to the law about renting with a pet

In early 2020, the Department of Commerce in Western Australia called for the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, the law governing renting in Western Australia, to be changed so that all tenants have a right to own a pet.  It is proposed that the law be changed to bring it in line with the relevant laws in the ACT and Victoria.  In these states, tenants can keep pets at the rental premises unless that landlord applies for an order that it would be unreasonable within 14 days of receiving a request that pets be allowed at the premises.

Pet bonds

Pet bonds, while disallowed in other states in Australia, can be charged in Western Australia.  The amount that can be charged for these is limited to $260.   However, more can be charged if the weekly rent is more than $1,200. Pet bonds cannot be charged for assistance dogs.

Certain dogs not allowed

Certain dogs are not allowed to be kept as pets in Western Australia according to the Dog (Restricted Breeds) Regulations 2002, which refers to section 53 of the Dog Act 1976.  Examples of such breeds are the American pit bull terrier and the Brazilian mastiff.

Damage caused when renting with a pet

Tenants will be liable for any damage that is done to the property by their pet so it is important to consider the space available and whether it is suitable.  Are there any features of the property that could be easily damaged your pet?  Is there a backyard for them to run around, so they are less likely to be active indoors and damage something?

Noise and nuisance

Tenants will also be responsible for any noise or nuisance their pet causes.  Consider whether the pet makes a lot of noise and the distance between the rental property and the neighbour’s property.  Is the noise likely to travel that far?  An example of nuisance could be that a pet wanders into a neighbour’s yard.  It is important to check that fencing in the rental property is adequate to retain the pet at the premises.

Renting with a pet that assists with a disability

The Equal Opportunity Act 1984 prevents discrimination based upon, among other things, disability.  It prevents applications being refused on this basis and so refusing a tenancy on the basis that someone has an assistance dog required for a disability is illegal.

Keeping a pet without the landlord’s approval

By keeping a pet on a rental property without the landlord’s consent, a tenant is in breach of the rental agreement.  If the landlord finds out about this breach, they may serve a notice on the tenant advising that they believe they have breached the agreement and advising that they wish to terminate the lease. The tenant and their pet then will be required to leave the property.

By-laws on renting with a pet

If a person is renting in a unit or apartment block, there may be by-laws relating to keeping pets at the premises.  These by-laws may disallow pets.  However, a tenant may wish to bring a pet to stay with them at the property. In this situation, if the landlord is happy for them to keep a pet, they may be able to challenge the by-law on their behalf.  However, there is no guarantee that such a challenge would be successful.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Kathryn Sampias

This article was written by Kathryn Sampias

Kathryn Sampias has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Kathryn was admitted to practice in 2005 and practised law for more than eight years, working both in private practice (mainly in defence litigation for professional indemnity disputes) and in the public service for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in enforcement.

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