Responsible Rental Pet Rights Policy

This policy has been developed with input from RSPCA Australia.

Tenant Rights wrote recently on "Why tenants MUST have the right to keep family pets" where key issues around renting with pets were highlighted. Tenant Rights spoke about the impact negative attitudes toward pets in rentals has for families, who are forced to give up their loved family members, and the volume of pets which are surrendered as a result.

Tenant Rights is pleased to see that pet ownership is an important issue for over 19,000 families who have shared this content to date - and still growing fast!

The Responsible Rental Pet Rights Policy, authored by Tenant Rights, aims to give tenants the right to keep pets in rental accommodation, whilst also ensuring important animal welfare needs are protected.

The current system assumes all pets will be a nuisance, or damage property, and so should not automatically be able to be accommodated in rental homes.

However, to our knowledge, this assumption is not underpinned or supported by research that indicates that property owners who accept pets in rentals are disadvantaged financially or in any other way by the fact that their tenants own pets.

Responsible Rental Pet Rights Policy

The Tenant Rights Party, along with the RSPCA, believes a pet can make a wonderful addition to your life. The social and health benefits of pet ownership are well recognised.

However, owning a pet is a lifetime responsibility. A dog or cat, for example, may live up to 15-20 years. Therefore, rental property tenants - like all Australians - should very carefully consider their ability to accommodate a pet for the entire duration of its life, before making the commitment to adopt a pet.

Tenants should carefully consider the type of rental accommodation they are likely to be able to afford and secure in the long term, and this should be a key factor in determining the type of pet they choose. The RSPCA can provide advice in this respect.

Tenancy agreements should automatically include a provision for tenants to keep pets, with some clear checks and balances to protect the owner's financial concern in their properties as well as the welfare of the animals. The provision may include an agreement to hold the tenants financially liable should any damages occur.

Where these checks and balances are followed by the tenant, the tenant will automatically have the right to keep their pet in rental accommodation.

This is designed to ensure that appropriate pets are automatically allowed.

Checks and balances

  1. For a new lease: Tenants must declare in writing, to the landlord or property manager, the number and species of pets that they intend to keep. This may be done;
    • At the time of applying, or
    • After being approved, but no later than seven (7) days before moving in.
  2. For an existing lease: Tenants must declare in writing, to the landlord or property manager, the number and species of pets they intend to keep, no later than fourteen (14) days before acquiring the pets.
  3. Tenants must be prepared to provide relevant pet's microchip, registration, vaccination status and whether it is desexed, to the landlord or property manager, in the written notice.
  4. Tenants should ensure their pets are compliant with relevant council regulations and strata by-laws at the intended residence, including with regard to registration, micro-chipping and desexing.
  5. A register that tenants, landlords and property managers can use to ensure that the number and species of pets proposed to live in the accommodation are in line with council regulations, while good animal welfare practices should be established. The register may also be used to report suspected animal abuse.
  6. Landlords or property managers may only reject the tenants' right to keep a pet if the declared pets do not meet with the council regulations or strata by-laws; if they believe there is a serious risk to the animal's welfare; or if there is damage sustained which has not been repaired by the tenant, within a reasonable time-frame, as determined by the National Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

Important Note: The Tenant Rights Party accepts that this policy applies a level of expectation and procedure which those who do not rent would not have to follow. It is our view that tenants should be treated equally and so it is openly acknowledged that this is less than perfect.

That being said - for many, many years - being allowed to have pets in rentals has been a strongly contested proposition, with little success. We believe this policy will work to prove that in fact, tenants are responsible pet owners and should have the right to keep their pets. This is a step towards the most ideal policy of: equality no matter if you are a tenant or not.

Please help us put an end to the senseless end of life and discrimination of tenants by joining our fight for tenant rights.

Please read about our National Tenancy Body, Anti Discrimination and Housing Affordability campaigns. We need you to join the fight for tenant rights!

24 Responses

  1. Shirley
    When I let my house out ,I specified to the agents that they were to give priority to people with pets,especially dog owners who find renting very difficult.In the whole of the 5 years that my house was rented the agents did not let to a single pet owner!I don't believe that there were no pet owning applicants,the agents just acted on their own predjuices. LJ Hooker,you're the worst!
  2. Sarah
    THANK YOU! I have been waiting for this action for so long. When I was 22 I had a lovely rescue cat that my landlord approved. But when I moved I couldn't find a rental that would allow me to keep him. I couldn't rehome him, poor darling, he was so ugly, no one wanted him. I ended up having to take him to the cat haven. I cried so much and swore I would never have another pet until I owned my own home. Years later, after buying a home I acquired 2 cats and was very close to adopting a lovely old border collie, but marriage was on the rocks and things were up in the air so I held back. Post divorce and back in the rental market I was glad I didn't get the dog. I was also devastated when I couldnt find a rental that would allow 2 cats, only 1, and it must be kept outside. I had to choose which cat to rehome. I had no choice and fortunately found an nice elderly lady to take the cuddly lap cat. It was bloody awful and 5 years later my autistic daughter still agonises over the cat we gave away because he was basically her cat. The guilt chews away at me sometimes. My whole life I have wanted a dog. We actually really need one. I get so much joy from animals, and my daughter gets great comfort from them. But I cant imagine ever owning my own place again. This may sound like a sad dramatic and slightly long story (lol) but seriously, I feel having a dog in our home would complete our family unit. But I've also joined your party because there are so many issues we tenants face and I am so tired of being treated, in fact even told to my face once, that I should be grateful that landlords exist! Umm, excuse me, but shouldn't landlords be grateful that tenants exist, after all it is we who are building up their wealth, their nest egg, not ours. Again, thank you, Australia really needs this.
  3. Fiona
    We are on a semi rural property and have 2 pigs, 2 sheep and a few chooks. When we moved in our cat and dog were put on the lease as that was what we had at the time. The agent knew that we wanted to get "farm animals" and said verbally "just send through an email and let us know." Which we did on each occasion. Now after an inspection we have been told as per our lease that we don't have written consent for the extra animals and they have to go. Apparently there is a different clause in a lease these animals come under. I have requested that the agent seek approval from owner on our behalf. How long do I have to wait for a response before asking again? Also where do we stand in regards to this please
  4. Gill
    I own a rental property and for the last 12 years I have not rented to anyone without pets, usually cats, but sometimes birds. My flat has never been damaged by my tenants and there has only been three change overs in that time. I do put new curtains in at changeover, but I think that should be done anyway. Noone should have to live without their pets.
  5. Diane
    I own two border collies and when applying for my current rental, I provided a pet resume. I was selected over 20 other potential clients, some with kids, some with neither kids or pets. My landlord is very supportive of my dogs; I paid a bond for them, they are allowed full access to all parts of the house. They are my family. I've been here over three years and considered a "gold" tenant by Real Estate Agency. Previous rental, same situation, and lived there over 13 years, always with at least two pets.
  6. Trudy
    As a tenant with a dog, a former landlord and employed as a Property Manager I understand alll sides and would like to make a few points. Landlords own the properties and have the right to make the decision as to who's application they approve and whether they will allow pets therefore pets should always be declared on the application NOT after the tenancy commences. A landlord may intend to return to live in the property they, or a family member, may have allergies to pet hair. The property may have highly polished floorboards and they don''t want dogs scratching them. Some owners don't mind pets as long as they are outside only however in SA if you permit pets you cannot stipulate "outside only pets" which I agree with. My dog is a family member and loves nothing better than curling up on her bed next to us. The animal has to suit the property. Strata regulations must be adhered to by owner occupiers AND tenants. I would estimate a minimum if 50% of our tenants have pets.
    • Hello Trudy, First of all I have to say that we obviously disagree with your first point entirely. Shelter / housing is a human right under many national constitutions. It's also a right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. So this idea that a landlord "has the right" to deny people who would be otherwise be reasonably approved (with exception to some irrational and discriminatory logic held by the agent and landlord), is not only wrong, but illegal. The result is a discriminatory bias that denies large volumes of people their human right to shelter. Landlords have no human right to invest in housing. So you can clearly see how this weighs up in terms of "importance", if you will. Regarding scratching floors and other notions such as these, I think it would be appropriate, where a landlord is concerned with such things, to invest only in the kinds of property and features that he or she thinks is suitable to their investment preference. That is - leave houses alone, if you don't want average Australian families living there. Regarding your other points in relation to suitability, strata and council regulations - this was all covered in the policy. So I am not sure what you point is there, unless it is in agreement :) Appreciate you coming forward. Regards, Anthony
    • Leanne
      Im sorry but I think renting is viewed the wrong way...real estate agents and owners ought to be grateful that there are people who ARE PAYING OFF THEIR HOUSE . And it is none of your business if i have a dog. Thats why we pay bond renember? Plenty of men do more damage than pets. And plenty of tight ass owners that couldnt care about the renter yet boo hoo over a roof leak. Eg...no curtains down one side of house and the others? Too short. Too bad the whole street can see. Too bad I dont feel safe but you get stroppy about a dog preventing damage from burglars.
  7. Carla
    Wow! What a wonderful undertaking for pets and their families. I'm lucky enough to live in a rental that allows pets, and feel so blessed to have been able to keep my cat with me for the last seven years. People with mortgages, who would probably make up the majority of "home owners", should also consider this as an insurance policy to allow their pets to stay with them if ever their circumstances cause them to have to sell up & rent. Sure, it's not an idea anyone wants to entertain, but it is a real possibility in life. Job loss, divorce, ill health, a major accident or a death in the family could change so many rhings, including the need to sell a home & find rental accommodation instead. This is a policy to help so many people, & so many pets. I hope it will be widely embraced, & will help change attitudes of owners & their agents.
  8. Lin
    I am a tenant, having pets in units are a bad idea. I am living in Unit that allows pets and no one considers the other tenants. There is animal poo in the backyard and no one picks it up, they aren't restrained and they come up to you when you are going to the bins etc, they whine/bark when the owners go out for hours, there's cat urine smell on the carpet in the foyer. I don't want to be paying rent to put up with this, people are too selfish and only think of themselves instead of thinking about the affect it has on others. If I was a landlord I would be saying no to pets and I think landlords have every right to do it. I mean even if people break these RSPCA laws, who's going to police them? I can't even get my local council to go speak to owners of a barking dog. So I doubt this is not going to be very effective either.
    • Hi Lin, thanks for writing. I actually think this policy may help your case in the long run. At the moment, it is up to landlords and agents to determine what pets are suitable, thus, what to approve or decline (assuming they don't just automatically decline). When we deliver this policy into the senate, you might expect landlords and agents would leave that decision up to the register, which would be maintained by those who are qualified and/or experienced to make such determinations so as to suitability. This is important because this will be done with animal welfare in mind.
    • Bonnie
      Just because that's your experience doesn't mean every pet owner is like that. In 30yrs I have NEVER had a cat go to the toilet anywhere but their litter tray. In fact, my previous cat (who lived to 18yrs old) was loved by everyone; neighbours used to buy ham specifically for him! Aside from the fact that I look after my pets very well, they are both companion animals for my special needs child and for my partner. Not having them is not an option. I also find it ridiculous that an agent or landlord has no problem accepting families with children yet say no to pets who are cleaner and quieter!
    • Natasha
      That's not what all animal owners are like though!
    • Andrea
      It sounds like you need to talk to your neighbours and tell them if they don't clean up after their pets and get their cars using a litter box you will report them to the RSPCA for neglect. I don't know how many places you've rented but I've never had issues with animals other than dogs barking But that's what dogs do. I live in a unit. And my cats are very clean and use their toilets. Pet ownership is a HUGE responsibility and all animals are different. Your neighbours need to learn what's making their cat pee in the shared space and to pick up their dogs poop. Having this new law in place would be a life changer. Less people would give up animals and more people would need to make sure they were doing the right thing by their pet. For me personally it would result in less stress and help with my mental illnesses.
  9. Rebecca
    This needs to happen ASAP! What can I do to help get this through?
    • Hi Rebecca, please join the party if you have not done so already and we will be in touch with next steps!
  10. Sharon
    Pets kept must be reasonable. I'm a home owner and will not have animals inside my house. I have children and grandchildren that have allergies and when I contemplated leasing my house out while I was away, I spoke to the agents and said they could have a pet but not inside. The agent was well you can't stop them from bringing a pet inside. OK bond enough to recarpet the two rooms that don't have hard floors. Decided to leave my house vacant for a year so I didn't have to repaint and recarpet because of tennants
    • Kirsty
      Sorry but pets like catz or small dogs shouldnt have to live outside i have 2 cats n 2 mini Dachshund no way could they live outside all the time they are apart of the family n need to be with the family . Kid whould do more damage to the carpet then the pets
    • JJM
      I think in your case that is a totally different matter. You are only temporarily wanting to rent your house out, and do have a right to not want animals inside. You would be most likely moving straight back into the house without a total clean out..... Regular rentals of 6, and 12 months plus should allow the family to keep their beloved pets. There is no point in having a dog or cat if they cannot join their families inside.
  11. Francisca Runge
    I have lived in Amsterdam for 20 years in rentals and never heard of pets not being alowed. They dont even ask you if you have them or not. They have no street dogs and no pets surrenderd cause they couldn't move with the family. Its a shock to know that the law allows landlords to expect people to be pet free
  12. Jodi
    I was recently unsuccessful in applying for a rental property because of pets. The property is still available. Any suggestion on what I should do?
    • You could try a pet resume and a pet agreement - template here from Cat Protection's website: https://www.catprotection.org.au/images/Draft%20pet%20agreement%20May%2011.pdf Good luck :)
  13. Denise Alexander
    Very well drawn up to cover all party's. Can I please submit the above email to receive newsletters. Wouldn't let me type email in, in lower case letters. Thanks.
    • Thanks for the comment Denise. I've added you to the newsletter!

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