Throughout my career one of the most asked questions has been if a property is “pet friendly”.
It has been my experience that more than 70% of the tenants that I have come into contact with have a pet of some kind. Unfortunately they often find themselves falling in love with a property which is not pet friendly i.e. the landlord will not approve a pet. This is also true of tenants who find apartments closer to the CBD or near town centre who have to apply to the body corporate board for permission to approve pets in the properties, prior to tenants securing it.
I have noticed in the southern states there is now a growing push to alter the rules so that landlords are not allowed to add a ‘no pets’ clause to a general tenancy agreement.
I recently had a tenant who had a medium sized staffy and they were finding it very difficult to find a property in their preferred area that would allow a dog. We had to wait over 2 weeks to secure permission from the body corporate – all the while a great tenant may have secured another property because another landlord may have been able to give her a quicker response.
I know of other tenants who will hide their pets from us during inspections in order to have their furbabies live with them at their preferred property. You know that they have a pet, you can just catch a whiff of them or all of the doors and windows are open during the periodic inspection. It is difficult, we have to actually catch tenants with pets in the property in order to issue a Notice to Remedy Breach. We do not want to have to force anyone to give up their furbabies.
I do not know many people who would give up their family members in order to secure a property. In saying that though I have assisted tenants to re-home several pets via my network of tenants and landlords.
I know of a tenant (not one of mine) who would put her cat and dog into her car and make sure that she was not at home during the time of the inspection. The pets would go to her Mother’s house for the afternoon or she would sit with them in the car around the corner avoiding the property manager.
I have known other tenants (again not mine) to just pop the cat over the neighbour’s fence and pretend that the cat belonged to one of the neighbours.
I understand that many tenants feel that they have no other option but to lie about the existence of their pets because they will lose their home.
The RSPCA says that strict controls on animals being not allowed to reside in rental properties are contributing to the overcrowding in the shelters. Many shelters receive surrendered pets because tenants are unable to secure approval to have their pets at their new rental property. I personally could not imagine having to give up my furbaby but some people just have to.
In Queensland the Residential Tenancies Authority advises that “tenants are not allowed to have a pet on the premises without permission from the landlord”.
The RTA advises that “statistics show that pets are not favoured among home owners with just 10 per cent of the state’s rental properties allowing pets”. I have to admit that my experience is that the majority of my clients will allow pets where possible(as many as 60%). Many of my clients are pet owners themselves and they feel empathy for their tenants and their families. In fact where possible I will advertise that the property is pet friendly in the title banner for the advertisement on the internet as I know that it will secure more tenant enquiries.
It is understood that the lack of pet-friendly homes has sparked calls by leading industry bodies including the REIQ for more property owners to consider allowing pets.
So what are supporters of pets in properties doing about this? I have seen a surge recently in media articles discussing this topic. I see that online petitions have started to pop up. Tenants are petitioning for laws to be changed to allow pets automatically instead of automatically denying pets. Tenants feel that there are already clauses in the General Tenancy Agreement which ensure that the tenants have to rectify any damage caused, so why not extend this automatically to pets?
I also see that politicians are looking to change the legislation in order to remove the landlords’ ability to not allow a pet at the property. Some of the opponents to the changes feel that to have an all inclusive pets allowed clause will wreak havoc on the industry. Once again they feel that the rights of landlords are being diluted more and more.
What do you think?