As of the 2nd March 2020, new laws were introduced in Victoria which have made it a lot easier for tenants to have pets in their rental property. These new laws apply to people who either get a new pet or move to a new rented property with their pet from the 2nd March 2020.
But what animals are actually considered to be pets? Pets include any animal other than an assistance animal, such as a guide dog, which cannot be refused.
Before anything, ask yourself: are you ready to get a pet?
Bringing a pet into your life is a big responsibility, but it can also be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Before you do anything, first check your local council laws and owner’s corporation laws (if they apply to your property) for any animal-related laws that may impact you. If, after doing all the necessary research, you decide that you can bring a new pet to live with you on your rental property, this is what you need to do.
Getting written consent from your landlord is a must if you want to get a pet. You must provide your landlord with a completed Pet Request Form for each of your pets. For example, if you have two dogs, you must submit two forms. You can find the official form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website here.
Your landlord can’t unreasonably refuse consent. But to make that decision easier for them, you should consider providing information on why your pet would be suitable to live on the property. For example, provide information such as your pet’s breed, age, temperament, level of training and why you think your rented premises is a suitable home for your pet. You can even create a resume for your pet!
When giving your Pet Request Form(s) to your landlord/agent, you should ensure you are delivering it in the correct method, whether it be hand-delivered, posted or—if your landlord has consented—emailed.
There are a couple of ways to get consent from your landlord. If:
1) you do not hear from your landlord after 14 days from the day after you submit the Pet Request Form; or
2) your landlord notifies you in writing of their consent—
then congratulations! You can get your pet.
If you are allowed a pet, you are not required to pay an extra pet bond on top of your regular bond.
A landlord cannot unreasonably refuse consent for a tenant to keep a pet on the property.
If your landlord does not consent, they must apply to VCAT within 14 days from the day after you submitted the Pet Request Form. VCAT will then decide whether it is unreasonable for your landlord to refuse consent.
There is no definition on what ‘unreasonably refuse’ means, however, when VCAT is making a decision as to whether they believe the landlord is unreasonably refusing a tenant from getting a pet, they can consider whatever they believe is relevant. Common things they may consider include the type of pet, the length of your ownership or attachment to it, the type of property, the appliances, fixtures and fitting in the property, and any relevant laws that may impact their decision (such as your local council laws).
If VCAT allows your landlord to refuse giving you consent to get a pet, they will make an order to exclude the pet from your premises. You will have 14 days to remove the pet from the property. If 14 days passes from when the order was made and the pet is still on the property, your landlord can serve you a notice to vacate.
Your landlord can apply to VCAT to get an order excluding the pet from the property if they reasonably suspect you are keeping a pet there without their knowledge. If an order is made by VCAT and you don’t comply with it within 14 days, your landlord can issue you with a notice to vacate.
A tenant must not cause a nuisance on their rented property that interferes with the peace, comfort or privacy of their neighbours.
This includes nuisance caused by pets. For example, it is a fact that dogs bark. But, if a dog is barking at 2am for hours at a time, it is not only stressful for that dog, but it becomes a nuisance as it disrupts the peace and comfort of the neighbours.
If your pet becomes a nuisance, your landlord can issue you with a breach of duty notice which will require you to stop your dog from being a nuisance within 14 days. If the nuisance is still occurring after receiving the breach of duty notice, your landlord may escalate the issue further and take you to VCAT where you may either have to pay compensation or you will receive a compliance order. A compliance order is an order that requires you to either do or not do something. For example, a compliance order may order you to stop your dog from barking.
If the issue is still not resolved 14 days since the order took effect, you may receive a notice to vacate.
A tenant is responsible for keeping the rental property reasonably clean and ensuring no damage is made to the property that goes beyond fair wear and tear. Fair wear and tear is considered the normal deterioration of the property from everyday use.
If your pet damages your rental property, for example your rabbit has chewed holes in the carpet, your landlord may serve you a breach of duty notice requiring you to fix the damage or pay compensation for the damage. You must also ensure that it does not happen again.
If 14 days passes since the breach of duty notice was served and the notice has still not been complied with, your landlord will be allowed to apply to VCAT for either compensation or a compliance order.
Your landlord will also be able to claim part or all of your bond if the rental property has been damaged in a way that is not considered fair wear and tear.
Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic).
Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic).
Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic), s 32.
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