With house prices out of reach for many Australians, renting is becoming a long term lifestyle choice for many.
The number of renters in Australia has risen steadily year-on-year, while homeownership numbers have dropped to their lowest figures since the Australian Bureau of Statistics first conducted its Survey of Income and Housing back in 1994.
Pet ownership is a big part of many Australians’ lives, but the issue can get heated on both sides when it comes to landlords allowing tenants to have pets in rental properties. And given that two in three households (or 62%) own a pet, keeping a dog or cat is one of the most common requests that tenants make.
We explore the current RTA guidelines and how to make it fair for everyone – including your furry friends – when you’re renting with pets.
The current state of play for pets in rentals
As the guidelines currently stand, landlords in Western Australia don’t have to allow pets in their investment properties. In many cases landlords do give permission for tenants to bring their pets into the home, however this must always be clearly stated in the lease.
When this happens, landlords usually include a pet bond (up to $260 according to current state law), which will cover their costs in the event the property needs fumigating after the tenant moves out, for example.
Reviewing the RTA’s guidelines on renting with pets
Pets can stay with tenants so long as the landlord signs off on it in the contract, however, owners currently have the right to refuse pets in rentals for any reason. With no state legislation in place, the Department of Commerce recently presented a review of the RTA’s guidelines on renting with pets.
There are a variety of possible changes on the table if legislation is deemed to be necessary. These potential changes include – but are not limited to:
- Landlords can only refuse pets in their rentals if they have an exemption from the court or the Commissioner.
- Landlords can only refuse pets in their rentals where there are reasonable grounds to do so.
- Tenants must ensure their pets do not cause a nuisance, and they are financially responsible for all repairs in the event of pet-related damage to the property.
Our opinion on WA pet laws for rentals
As experienced property managers across the entire Perth region, we work with a diversity of landlords. Some always allow pets, others do so on a case-by-case basis, and some owners absolutely never want pets in their rentals.
On the tenant side we’ve all heard of horror stories where pets have ruined a property, and caused extensive damage. But while these situations do occasionally occur, in reality these instances are very few and far between. More often than not we work with responsible tenants who own very well-behaved pets. We have seen many tenants go the extra mile to provide pet CVs and references, and to ensure no damage to the property was done and that every trace of the animal was cleaned before they moved on.
We believe that any legislation that is passed must find a balance between the owner and the tenant. There is a real risk that giving tenants complete freedom to bring pets into rentals could cause financial hardships for landlords, and in such a case there would be no winners.
We do, however, need to recognise that pet ownership is a part of life for most Australians, and with the number of renters only set to increase in the coming years there must be a happy balance struck that allows owners to protect their financial investments, and tenants to enjoy the company of their pets at home.
Get a helping hand with an experienced property manager
Because legislation and guidelines are constantly changing, it’s important to stay across your obligations as a landlord. Contact us today for assistance managing all your property needs – pet-related or not!