Pets & Housing – The Facts
Having trouble finding pet friendly housing? You are not alone. Around 25% of Animal Welfare League Qld’s surrender intake each financial year is due to moving or inability to find pet-friendly homes.
RENTING WITH PETS
Owners of rental properties in Queensland can still say “no pets” in the lease. However, laws are currently under review in Queensland.
The Queensland Residential Tenancy Authority states that just 10% of the state’s rental properties allow pets. Yet, 62% of Australian households have a pet (almost 40% have a dog, and 30% a cat). Many pet owners treat their pets as family and don’t want to have to give them up or surrender them to a shelter. The animals also feel the loss.
This has led to AWLQ and leading industry bodies, including the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, to call for more property owners to consider allowing pets.
AWLQ believes that Queensland laws should be reformed so that pet owners have a right to keep pets in rental and body corporate situations, provided they demonstrate the capacity to care for the pet’s welfare, and not damage the property or prohibit other residents’ use and enjoyment of their properties. Such tenancy laws already exist in Victoria, NT and ACT, where if a rental property owner wants to refuse a pet, they have to justify this to a government tribunal. This is also being considered in South Australia.
For Rental property owners and body corporates
You can help to make the real estate market fairer by opening up your property to pet owners, while protecting yourself by asking pet owners to show they are responsible owners through requiring pet applications/resumes, pet references, pet agreements and meeting the pet (see below).
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 neighbours.
You can also help by making your rental property as pet friendly as possible – suitable flooring such as tiles or wood rather than carpet, and access to an enclosed back yard and cat safe fence attachments or enclosures. As most people do allow their pets inside as part of their family, it is preferable to allow this in most cases, and provide suitable safe outdoor areas for the animal to toilet and play.
Taking out insurance against pet damage can also provide peace-of-mind. A number of companies are now providing pet insurance against pet damage for landlords at reasonable rates and where it can apply to any pet on the property.
You should play your part to overcome property owners’ concerns about property damage or nuisance issues. To enable the property owner or body corporate 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 referencesfrom your vet, dog trainer, or property managers where you have lived with your pet
- introducing your petto the landlord or body corporate to show good behaviour and training may also help
- a pet agreementwhich 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 .
PETS & BODY CORPORATES
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 with regard to keeping their pet.
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.
If you offer all of the above assurances such as pet resumes, pet references and a pet agreement 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 Corporate and Community Management document (pp. 6,7) here.
If they still refuse, contact the Body Corporate Commissioner on 1800 060 119 or at justice.qld.gov.au/bccm for advice, and to lodge a dispute if necessary.
Click here for our Pet Friendly Accommodation Information Sheet
If this advice has helped you and your pet succeed in finding housing or if you need further advice or support, let us know. Send an email to AWLQ’s Strategic Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Information revised 28.4.2