New Laws on Pets in Rental Properties

New laws on pets and renting came into effect on 2 March 2020.

The new laws will make it easier for both tenants and landlords to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to allowing and keeping pets in a rental property.  Victorian tenants must now request their landlord’s written consent to bring a new pet into the property.

Under the law, a pet is any animal except an assistance dog.

Do the new laws apply to pre-existing pets?

The new laws do not apply to rental properties that already have pets before 2 March 2020.

There is no need to seek consent.

However, if a tenant wants to bring a new pet into the property, they must request written permission from the landlord by using the Pet request form. Download the Pet request form here.

Tenant’s right to keep a pet with the landlord’s consent

If you want to keep a pet, you must give your landlord a completed Pet request form. Download the Pet request form here

What tenants need to do

  • Complete a Pet request form for each pet.
  • Give the completed form/s to your agent
  • Keep a copy for your own records.

The landlord has 14 days (starting the day after they received the form) to apply to VCAT if they want to refuse consent for a pet.

Tips for completing a Pet request form

It’s a good idea to provide information that will help the landlord decide whether the pet is suitable to be kept on the premises. This could include:

  • information about the pet’s age, temperament, training or other characteristics
  • reference(s) from a vet, trainer, previous landlord and/or neighbour
  • why you think the property is suitable for keeping your pet.

You should also check that the pet complies with local council laws and other laws about pet ownership. These laws will apply regardless of whether the landlord has given consent. For more information, visit the Pets section – Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions website.

Refusing Consent

If a landlord believes that it is reasonable to refuse consent to a pet living in the property, they will have to seek an order from VCAT to refuse the pet.

VCAT can take various things into account when determining whether it is appropriate for a pet to be kept in a rental property.

These include situations where:

  • the property is not suitable for the type of pet the renter wishes to keep
  • local council rules prohibit the keeping of certain animals
  • the suitability of the pet, such as whether the pet may pose a threat to neighbours or other residents.

If the landlord applies to VCAT

VCAT can order that either:

  • the landlord’s refusal is reasonable and/or the pet is excluded from the property, or
  • the tenant can keep the pet on the rental property.

When making its decision, VCAT may consider:

  • the type of pet the tenant wants to keep
  • the type of property the tenant is renting
  • appliances, fixtures and fittings in the property
  • other relevant laws (for example, if the pet is prohibited by a local council law)
  • anything else VCAT considers relevant.

If VCAT makes an order excluding the pet from the premises, the tenant has 14 days to comply with the order after it takes effect. If the tenant has not complied with the order after 14 days, the landlord can serve them with a notice to vacate, giving a minimum of 28 days’ notice.

Pet-related damage

If a pet damages the rental property, the the tenant must repair any damage that is beyond ‘fair wear and tear’.

If a tenant keeps a pet without consent

If a landlord reasonably believes a tenant is keeping a pet on the premises without consent, the landlord can apply to VCAT for an order to exclude the pet from the premises.

More information is available on the Pets and renting page.

Article courtesy of Consumer Affairs Victoria.

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