Pets & Housing – The Facts
Having trouble finding pet friendly housing? You are not alone. Around 25 per cent of AWLQ’s 2,500 surrender intake last financial year was due to an inability to find pet friendly homes.
But did you know, in strata-title unit or apartment living, banning of all pets, as well as banning dogs of a certain size or weight, by body corporates has been ruled invalid, by the Queensland Commissioner (Body Corporate and Community Management). As well, tenants have equal rights to owners in regards to keeping their pet.
“It seems that far too many body corporates are either ignorant of these rulings, or are choosing to bluff their way through to prohibit pets, even though this has been ruled as unreasonable,” said Kim Jordan of Park Avenue Strata Management.
A body corporate committee is required to consider the circumstances of each case and be reasonable in the decision it takes. The primary issue for a body corporate considering a pet application is the likelihood of an adverse impact on common property or any person. Where there are genuine concerns, the imposition of reasonable conditions on keeping the pet may be more reasonable than outright refusal.
However, Queensland rental properties owners can still say “no pets” in the lease. The Queensland Residential Tenancy Authority states that pets are not favoured among homeowners with just ten per cent of the state’s rental properties allowing pets. This has led to leading industry bodies, including the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, to call for more property owners to consider allowing pets.
Sixty-two per cent of Australian households have a pet (almost 40% a dog, and 30% a cat). Many pet owners treat their pets as family and really don’t want to leave them. The animals also feel the loss.
AWLQ Strategic Director Dr Joy Verrinder said developers need to play their part in opening up the real estate market to pet ownership, by designing properties that suit pets, with easy-care interiors and well-designed outside play areas with cat and dog safe fencing to prevent wandering. Many exclusive apartment developments in Sydney and Melbourne, and some new ones in Brisbane, now promote themselves as being pet-friendly.
“Ideally, the laws should be reformed to make it illegal for an owner to discriminate against a person with a pet – provided the person demonstrates the capacity to care for the pet’s welfare, and not damage the property or prohibit other residents’ use and enjoyment of their lots. They also need to agree to pay for any accidental damage,” Doctor Verrinder said.
However as animal carers we too can play our part to overcome concerns. To enable the body corporate or property owner to make a reasonable decision, you can demonstrate that you are a responsible carer by providing the below…
- a pet resume (outlining up-to-date immunisations, flea and worming treatments, microchip details, desexing certificate, and obedience training certificates)
- pet references from your vet, dog trainer, or managers where you have lived with your pet
- Introducing your pet to the landlord to show good behaviour and training may also help
- Offering to sign a pet agreement which outlines reasonable expectations for the care and management of your pet is a way to demonstrate that you take your responsibilities seriously
See a sample pet agreement here
If you offer all of these assurances and a body corporate still says “no pets”, you should let them know that the Commissioner (Body Corporate and Community Management) has previously found such blanket decisions unreasonable. Read the Body Coporate and Community Management document stating so here.
If they still refuse, contact the Commissioner on 1800 060 119 or at justice.qld.gov.au/bccm for advice, and to lodge a dispute if necessary.
Many people are choosing to downsize, especially as they age, and need to be able to take their pet with them. Decisions about suitability of animals for unit/apartment living should not be based on the animal’s size or weight, but on their activity levels, personality and training, as well as the owner’s demonstrated capacity to provide for the animals’ needs and not impinge on the well-being of others in the complex.
Of the more than 2,500 cats and dogs surrendered to AWLQ last financial year, almost 25 per cent were due to moving house, or an inability to find pet friendly accommodation.
If an owner still says “no”, unfortunately this is still legal in Queensland, and so we will just have to continue to work toward changing perceptions, and developing understanding of the advantages of accepting responsible pet owners e.g. a wider pool of applicants.