Securing a rental property in Australia can be more problematic with furry family members. This often comes as an unwelcome surprise to expats and new entrants to the rental market.
Less that 20% of all listed rental properties in the greater Brisbane area allow pets and this reduces to less than 15% of listings as you move closer to the CBD in the inner Brisbane area. The statistics are not dissimilar in other Australian states. Although attitudes are slowly changing, Landlords are generally hesitant to allow pets due to the fear that they will damage the property, in particular, causing odours in carpets, scratching internal floors and decks, destroying gardens and causing issues with neighbours. In Queensland, and many other Australian states, residential tenancy rules do not allow landlords to include a pet bond to adequately manage these risks and landlord insurance policies can also be inadequate to protect against pet damage to rental property.
This situation greatly limits rental options for tenants with pets. They are often forced to consider older properties, properties further out from the city centre, less popular properties (e.g. under flight paths, near main roads, less well maintained etc) and it can take much longer (months instead of weeks) to secure an adequate rental property. The problem is exacerbated the more pets a tenant has and the larger the breed.
The residential tenancy rules with regards to pets varies from State to State across Australia and there are proposed plans in some States to give the tenants more rights in this area. It is recommend that you familiarize yourself with the specific rules that apply prior to commencing your home search so you are armed with the information you need, not only to secure a rental property, but to also ensure an uneventful tenancy.
How to increase your chances of securing a pet friendly rental
To improve your chances for success when applying for properties consider the following:
You have pet references available (e.g. old neighbour, vet, previous managing agent or owner);
Create pet resume (especially for dogs) with details of the pet’s age, temperament, vaccinations and include a photo that may win over the owner;
Consider offering more rent and or sign a pet agreement;
Commit to clean when you vacate the property or during the tenancy including, deep cleaning carpet, flea treatment and deodorizing;
Before inspecting a property call the property manager and confirm if pets are allowed (even if the advertisement does not state “pet friendly”) and, if so, what types;
Do be honest, if you rent a property and your pet has not been approved, you are in breach of your tenancy and the landlord may have a right to terminate the tenancy or require the pet to be removed from the propetry. This may reflect badly on your rental record and ability to rent in the future.
Tenancy obligations with pets
Once you have secured a property and have the landlord's permission to keep a pet, remember that tenants do have the obligation to ensure that the pet does not damage the property or cause a nuisance. A nuisance is considered anything that interferes with neighbour's enjoyment of their property which may include continuous barking, unpleasant smells, aggressive behaviour etc. If you pet does damage the property or cause nuisance the landlord can issue you with a Breach of Duty Notice and if the issue is not resolved you can be made to leave the property. If your pet endangers the safety of neighbours (e.g. attacks someone) the landlord can issue you with an immediate Notice to Vacate.
If a separate pet agreement is included in the lease, it may impose additional obligations (e.g. may require the pet to be outdoors only, cleaning / fumigation obligations, and keeping pet under control during inspections), so do ensure that you understand these obligations fully when entering into your lease.
If you need assistance with your move to Australia and you are bringing your pet(s) with you, do not hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced relocation consultants. We'd be happy to help.