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The ins and outs of pet ownership whilst renting

These changes make up part of wider reforms to rental laws under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (“the Act”).

Tenants can keep a pet in their rental property as long as they comply with the requirements under the Act. These requirements include:

Tenants must ask their landlord before keeping a pet on the rented property;

- The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to consent; and

- The landlord has 14 days from the request to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“VCAT”) for permission to refuse the application.

The process

Using the Consumer Affairs Victoria approved Pet Request Form, tenants can apply to their landlord or property manager to keep a pet on the premises. They must complete a separate form for each pet they wish to keep, and may be required to provide information such as the type of animal and any identifying details.

Once the form is received by the landlord, they will have 14 days to accept or reject the application. If the application is accepted, the landlord should sign the form and provide it back to the tenant. If they reject the application, they must apply to VCAT to refuse. If the landlord does not apply to VCAT within 14 days of receiving the application, they are taken to have consented to the request.

From 2 March 2020, if a tenant is keeping a pet on the premises and has not sought permission, they must make a request to get consent from the landlord.

What can VCAT do?

VCAT can make an order that the tenant can keep the pet on the premises, or they can order that it is reasonable for the landlord to refuse consent to the request, and/or that the pet is excluded from the premises. VCAT may consider the type of pet in question, the character or nature of the premises including appliances, fixtures and fittings, relevant laws such as local council laws, and anything else that VCAT considers relevant.

If VCAT orders exclusion of the pet from the premises, the order will include a date of compliance for the tenant to have removed the pet. Failure to comply within 14 days of that date can lead to the landlord serving a notice to vacate.

 If you wish to discuss pets in rental properties, please contact our Property Law team on (03) 9870 9870.

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