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Pets in rental properties

In 2020, the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 was amended to include a new process for tenants to request consent from their landlord to keep a pet on the property.

Tenants must make the request using the approved form (which can be found onConsumer Affairs’ website). The landlord has 14 days to make a decision and if they refuse to allow the request, the landlord must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘VCAT’) within 14 days for an Order that the request be refused.

In deciding whether to make an order to refuse permission for a pet, VCAT can order that the landlord’s decision to refuse to allow a pet on the property was reasonable, or that the tenant can keep the pet. In making a decision, VCAT can consider the type of pet and the type of property, the appliances, fixtures and fittings in the property, any relevant laws (such as Council laws prohibiting keeping of animals) and anything else it considers relevant.

There are two reported cases from VCAT relating to the new provisions. In both cases, the tenant was allowed to keep the pet on the premises. In Jaggers v Webster & Others (ResidentialTenancies) [2020] VCAT 556 VCAT ordered the tenants could keep a dog on the premises even though the height of the enclosure around the rooftop terrace was not compliant with the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs, published by Agriculture Victoria under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

In Teschner v Vearing (Residential Tenancies) [2020] VCAT 484, the landlord’s concerns that his landlord insurance did not cover pets unless he paid an additional premium, was found by VCAT to be an irrelevant consideration.

Landlords are prohibited from accepting a pet bond. Any damage the pet may cause to the property is to be treated in the same way as any other damage. During the tenancy, the landlord can serve a breach of duty notice on the tenant for any damage caused by a pet, or they can claim on the bond or sue the tenant after the end of the tenancy for the cost of the repair of any damage.

Some Owners Corporation rules may prohibit the owning of pets. However, these types of rules have been found to be invalid, as an Owners Corporation does not have power to make rules in relation to what happens in the individual lots. An Owners Corporation is allowed to make rules regarding the behaviour of pets on common property. If any pet is dangerous or is causing a nuisance, the tenant may have to remove the pet. If you require any further information or assistance regarding pet ownership in a rented property please contact our Property Law Department on 9870 9870.

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