Can I have a pet in my rental?

By Anika Legal | Sat 29th April '23

You must have your rental provider (landlord)’s permission in order to have a pet in your rental property.

A rental provider can only refuse your request if they have a good reason for doing so. Rental providers can apply to VCAT for an order to:

  • refuse permission; or
  • have your pet removed (if you brought in your pet without the rental provider’s permission).

Before bringing your pet into your rental property, you should also be aware of the following:

  • If the property is an apartment, then the building’s owners corporation may have its own rules about pets in common areas, which you will need to follow. The owners corporation may also try to have your pet removed if they decide that the pet is dangerous or is causing a nuisance.
  • Note: If you are moving into an apartment, you should make sure to get a copy of the owners corporation rules from your agent / rental provider.
  • There may be conditions in your local council laws and other laws about pet ownership. These laws will apply whether or not the rental provider has given you permission to have a pet on the property. Agriculture Victoria has information about domestic animal laws.
What is a pet?

Any animal that you own is a pet – unless that animal is an assistance dog (for example: a guide dog).

There are different laws for assistance dogs. You can find out more about assistance dogs on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

How do I ask permission from the rental provider?

To ask to have a pet in your home, you need to complete an individual Pet Request form (published by Consumer Affairs Victoria) for each pet that you’re requesting permission for, and send the form(s) to the rental provider. You should keep copies of the form(s) for your own records.

It is important that you provide the rental provider with any information that will help them decide if you can have your pet in the property. This might include information about:

  • the pet – things like its size, age, behaviour, and any training the pet has; and
  • why your home is suitable for your pet to live in.
What happens after I send the Pet Request form?

The rental provider can only refuse your request if they can get VCAT to agree that it is reasonable for them to say no to your request.

The rental provider has 14 days to respond to your Pet Request form. One of three things need to happen within the 14 days:

  1. If they agree, they need to tell you in writing;
  2. If they don’t agree, they need to apply to VCAT and notify you that they’ve applied to VCAT. If you receive such a notice from the rental provider, you cannot have your pet(s) in the property until VCAT makes a decision; or
  3. If they don’t respond within 14 days, the law says that you can assume that they’ve agreed – and you can have your pet.
Can the rental provider impose additional conditions when agreeing to my pet request?

Conditions: Yes, the rental provider may ask for you to agree to additional conditions (as part of your lease agreement) before agreeing to your pet.

  • If you agree to the additional conditions, then you should make sure the agreement is in writing (eg. via email exchange between you and your rental provider, or on a document signed by both you and the rental provider).
  • if you don’t agree to the additional conditions, then the rental provider will need to apply to VCAT for permission to say no to your pet.
  • ‘Pet bond’: The rental provider can’t ask for a separate “pet bond,” or any extra payment from you as insurance in case your pet causes damage to the property. This risk is already covered by you paying your bond to the rental provider.
What happens if the rental provider says no to my pet?

The rental provider needs to apply to VCAT if they don’t want you to have a pet within 14 days.

VCAT will then need to decide if it was “reasonable” for the rental provider to say that you can’t have your pet.

You cannot bring your pet into your home whilst you are waiting for VCAT to make a decision.

If your rental provider makes an application to VCAT, you should consider speaking to a lawyer.

What duties should I be aware of if I get permission to have a pet in my home?

As a tenant in a rental property, you need to make sure that:

  • you take care of the home and avoid causing damage;
  • you keep your home reasonably clean; and
  • you and anyone in your home (including your pet(s)) don’t affect the peace, comfort or privacy of your neighbours.

These things are called “duties.” It is your responsibility to make sure you still do these things once you have a pet in your home.

If you don’t do these things, the rental provider can send you a “Notice of breach of duty”. This notice will tell you to fix the breach or pay for any damage (including and damage caused by your pet(s)), and will tell you to not breach the same duty again. If you don’t comply with this notice, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.

Dangerous pets

It is your responsibility to make sure you have complied with any laws about keeping dangerous animals as pets. In Victoria there are special laws if your pet is a restricted breed.

If your pet endangers the safety of your neighbours, your landlord can try to evict you. They can only do this in very extreme situations – for example if your dog attacks your neighbours.

If you receive an immediate notice to vacate, this does not mean you have to move out straight away. You should speak to a lawyer for advice as soon as possible.

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