Posted Thu 12 May 2022 at 13:18pm
With competition for Australian rental homes soaring, those with pets are facing an even tougher battle. In this article, we discuss the demand for more pet-friendly Australian cities and how you can effectively stand-up for your pet.
From outdoor kennels to city slicker pups with luxury beds, pet pawty’s and dog-friendly cafes – there’s no doubt that society has become more pet-obsessed. While Australian pet owners already consider pets as family members, the rules and regulations surrounding pet housing and pets in public spaces are yet to catch up. Wide-eyed pet owners searching for housing often face rejection to rental applications, leaving those in urgent need of housing with two heartbreaking choices – give up their pet or face homelessness.
“RSPCA Victoria recorded over 500 pets being surrendered per year as a result of moving to non-pet-friendly accommodation.”
– RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Executive Liz Walker
The rise of new housing to be fur, feather or scale-friendly
As pet ownership continues to skyrocket, according to town planners and property developers, ignoring pets is not the solution and that it’s time that Australian cities begin to match the growing trend and demand for pet-friendly apartments and housing. While we may not have a seat in state government or be urban planners, there are a few steps we can take to advocate for our beloved pets.
Read on to learn about why pets are good for our cities, the rules for pet rentals in your state, and how to create a pet resume to facilitate the rental process.
The Positive Impacts of Pet-friendly Cities
With the pandemic surging pet ownership in Australia from 61% to 69%, it’s no secret that pets benefit their owners in a multitude of ways. From pushing us out of bed in the morning to boosting our serotonin levels and helping us meet our daily exercise requirements, pets have proven to positively impact our quality of life. However, the growing pet-owning population has town planners fearing that Australian pet parents will be left behind. Dr Jennifer Kent, a world-leading expert on dogs and transport and Senior Researcher at the University of Sydney, believes that “we need to ensure there’s adequate and open space in our cities so that people feel compelled and comfortable taking dogs out of their apartment homes.”
Besides making their owners feel good, dogs are believed by town planners and property developers to help foster neighbourhood communities. Just think back to how many people you’ve chatted with at the dog park or the countless times your pet has been an ice-breaker with your neighbour. For this reason, Billbergia Group Development Director, Saul Moran, aims to create unique puppy parking stations outside retail centres. These areas feature a tie-up point, all-weather shelters, dog bowls, and doggy bags.
(Source: Bayfair , ‘Centre Services’, 2022)
Rules for Renting with Pets in Australia by State
Despite the push for more pet-friendly housing, regulations restrict pet owners from finding rentals in some Australian states. VIC, QLD, ACT, and NT have legislation that protects both the renter and the landlord. Whereas NSW, WA, SA, and TAS allow the landlord to dismiss those with pets at their discretion. It’s also important to remember that apartment complexes and townhouses can have their own by-laws.
The following rules and regulations do not apply to assistance animals.
- The landlord decides whether tenants are allowed pets. In some instances, the landlord may include a ‘no pets’ clause in the lease. It is not illegal for landlords to put a ‘no pets’ clause
- As of October 2020, apartment block owners can no longer create bylaws that ban pets
- Strata schemes cannot prohibit pets unless the animal interferes with another resident’s use of the property
- Renters must seek permission from the landlord to have a pet. If a landlord refuses their request, tenants can apply for a VCAT where the landlord has to explain to a tribunal their reason for not allowing the pet
- If a landlord or real estate agent does not submit a response back to a VCAT within 14 days the renter is granted permission by default
- Tenants must gain approval before bringing a new pet home
- As of 2021, it is illegal for landlords to refuse a pet for no valid reason. However, there are some exceptions.
- If a landlord has not responded to a tenets request for a pet within 14 days the renter’s application is automatically approved
- Landlords cannot charge a pet bond
- Landlords must apply to a tribunal to prevent a tenant from having a pet
- If the landlord has a tenancy agreement regarding pets and does not apply to a tribunal within 14 days the renter can keep the pet
- Renters cannot be charged a pet bond
- Pets are allowed to stay in a rental property with the approval of the landlord
- If the landlord chooses to reject the pet, the renter cannot fight it
- Renters have to pay a pet bond
- Landlords can only prohibit pets with a valid reason. Such reasons must be assessed by the tribunal within 14 days of receiving the pet request
- When the renter gets a new pet, they must provide a written notice to the landlord or agent 14 days prior
- Renters cannot be charged a pet bond
- Permission of pets is up to the landlord unless a strata committee has their own rule about pets
- Pet bonds are not permitted
How to Advocate for your Pet
Just like your resume informs your potential employer about your skills and qualities, a pet resume gives your landlord a clearer understanding of your pet and their personality. Perhaps, your renter perceives your pet as one to muck up the walls or bark at all hours of the night. A pet resume will help showcase that your furbaby is just a cuddle monster or couch potato likely to snooze all day rather than dig up the carpet.
Alternatively, you can get creative by showing your landlord your pet’s Baxta app profile. Seeing live photos and videos of your adorable furbaby may be just enough to pull their heartstrings!
What to Include in Your Pet’s Resume:
- Your pet’s breed & age
- Your pet’s friendly qualities – emphasise those attributes that make your furbaby a good neighbour
- Activity level (e.g. is your dog high energy or low energy dog?)
Tip: if your pup requires a lot of exercise, indicate your pooch’s daily exercise routine
- Your pet’s best personality traits (e.g. friendly with strangers)
- Provide information about their barking habits
- What training your pet has completed and what ongoing training you plan to undertake.
Tip: make sure you mention if your dog is toilet trained!
- A record of their up to date health care, vaccinations, desexing, registration, microchipping, flea, and tick control
- How you clean up after your pet (e.g. litter trays, regularly clean carpets, if you take your pup outside for the toilet)
- Arrangements for when you’re away or at work
- Grooming routine (e.g. regular baths, cuts, nail trimming)
- References from previous landlords, pet sitters, vets or a trainer
- Photos of your pet
Responsible Pet Ownership
As pets become more integrated into our everyday lives, here are a few rules to stick by to ensure your pet is safe and happy when you’re out and about.
- Always use a leash unless at a designated off-leash area (e.g. make sure your dog has good recall)
- Clean up after your pet
- Be respectful of other people. This goes two ways – respect other people who may not be comfortable with dogs and normalise rejecting pats from strangers or strangers who want your dog to interact with theirs
- Keep a close eye on your pet when at the dog park or walking – always be aware of exits at parks and don’t allow your pooch to wander off unattended