More than 60 per cent of Aussies are pet owners so it’s a major concern for renters.
According to the RSPCA, Australia has the highest pet ownership in the world, with 63% of Australian households owning a pet totalling over 25 million pets. Predictably, dogs are the most common pet at 39% followed by cats at 29%.
With companionship being the chief reason for having pets, it’s no wonder we treat our pets as children.
So what happens if you own a pet and you’re renting?
If you’re planning to rent an apartment, the first challenge is the Strata by-laws which may prohibit the ownership of any pet.
After that it’s all up to the landlord.
So why do so many landlords refuse pets, and keeping in mind the law of averages, many of these landlords probably have pets of their own?
Well, it’s because pets often mean fleas, stains, odours, noise and damage. In NSW a landlord is not permitted to ask for a bond any more than the equivalent of 4 weeks rent. If a landlord allows a tenant to have a pet on the property, all they are allowed to ask is that the property be fumigated when the tenant vacates.
For a landlord there is very little upside to the risk of having a pet on the property. Or is there?
Over the next couple of years, the supply of apartments in Australia is set to increase substantially with a large proportion of these properties ending up as rentals. This will mean stronger competition for tenants. To weather the storm, landlords will need to make their properties stand out from the crowd to avoid vacancy and lower rental yield.
With so many potential tenants with pets is it possible for a landlord to consider allowing pets as their point of difference? And if so, how do you make a property pet friendly?
These are the main areas that need to be thought through,
- Floor surfaces – Carpets can absorb odours and become stained, timber floors can scratch easily and stone can be too porous without an effective sealer. Consider vinyl as its warm underfoot and easily cleaned.
- Paint needs to be durable and easy to clean. Choose a quality name brand as they tend to last longer between repaints.
- Ventilation is essential. If pets are left inside for long periods of time odours can build up.
- Curtains can be tricky particularly with cats, blinds can make better sense
- Outdoor areas need to be secure and easy to maintain.
- Regular inspections are essential. At least twice a year inspect the property for wear and tear and for damage. It’s not only good practise for every property but super important with pets.
- Which pet – The style of pet is also crucial. A large dog in a small unit is asking for trouble. Although there are many families in this situation handling it well, as an investor it raises the risk quite substantially. Cats are generally good house pets, they sleep most of the day and are usually very clean, although some breeds can be trouble – too much energy.
- Rental Bond – Western Australia is the only state where a landlord can ask for a pet bond up to $260.00.
- Landlord Insurance is another area that needs to be checked as most policies do not cover for damage caused by pets.
- Lease terms – You can include a special condition in the tenancy agreement that the property be steam cleaned and fumigated when the tenant leaves if you have allowed the tenant to keep a pet.
- Anti-discrimination – You are not allowed to exclude a tenant whose pet is trained to assist with a disability, such as a guide dog.
- References – Be very thorough with references. Make sure you are comfortable that the character of the tenant is in keeping with keeping having a pet in your property. Better be safe than sorry.
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