Australia’s Pet Rental Laws, Explained

Pets are pretty common in Australia but rental laws don’t always favour our furry or feathery companions. As lawmakers have recognised this isn’t always fair, some states and territories have begun to relax legislation preventing tenants from becoming pet owners. Here’s a breakdown of which ones apply to you.

New laws come into effect in Victoria from March 2 allowing tenants to request their landlord’s regarding pets in the property, and landlords must not reasonably refuse. It’s a great step for anyone who’s had a hard time finding properties that allow them to keep their smelly but lovable ani-pals, or for anyone who’s been desperately wanting to adopt a new friend but has been put off due to the competitive rental markets.

Here’s what the law says for the rest of Australia.

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What the law says about renting with pets in your state or territory?

Starting off with Victoria, the updated laws can be found in Residential Tenancies Act 1997. It states the tenant must request in writing from the landlord and that the landlord must not reasonably refuse. If your pet is a bit naughty and messes the place up a bit, you may be liable to pay or compensate for any damages done to the rental property.

In NSW, the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 actually doesn’t prevent tenants from bringing pets onto a property but many leases will have a clause relating to it specifically. Equally, it’s not illegal for landlords to put a ‘no pets’ clause in unless it’s an assistance or companion animal. On top of that, you’ll have to adhere to the building’s strata by-laws too, which could refuse pets altogether.

It’s not unreasonable, however, to ask before you move in whether the place you’re looking at will accept pets when you move in or in the future. If they do say yes, make sure you understand the conditions as some will force you to undertake professional cleaning and fumigation services at the end of your lease.

Queensland too requires tenants to ask permission to keep their pets inside a rental property under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009. Like NSW, a landlord is well within their right to decline the request and unlike Victoria’s updated legislation, it’s completely at the landlord’s discretion.

South Australia has similar rights in favour of landlords meaning tenants have little power over whether their pets will be allowed within the rental property. The state’s government website outlines landlords may decline or if they allow a pet, could force tenants to professionally clean and fumigate the property as well as hold additional inspections.

Western Australia is one of the only in the country to take it a step further and allow landlords to charge an additional pet bond on top if they decide to approve a pet on the lease. That bond can cost up to a maximum of $260.

In Tasmania, things remain relatively the same with landlord’s ultimately deciding whether they would allow a pet with little recourse for potential tenants. If a landlord accepts a pet on the lease, the relevant state department says they should keep the property the same as it was when they first moved in and will likely be responsible for any damages incurred.

Northern Territory recently amended the Residential Tenancies Act 1999 and Residential Tenancies Regulations 2000. The changes mean tenants can now request in writing to their landlords to keep a pet on the premises. The landlord has 14 days to make a decision. If the landlord says no, they have to make an application to the tribunal to prove its a reasonable denial and if the tribunal rejects the application, the tenant can keep the pet on the rental property.

The ACT on the other hand introduced amendments back in 2019 making it a bit easier for tenants to keep their pets on rental properties. A landlord can refuse a tenant’s request, according to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, but it must be submitted to the ACT’s Civil & Administrative Tribunal. It will then make a decision on whether to approve or reject the landlord’s request to deny the pet or allow the tenant to keep the pet with specific conditions.

It’s still a hard slog out there for pet owners wanting to rent but as legislation slowly but surely adapts, it’ll soon be easier for you and your good boy to find the perfect place.

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