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Pets

Information about renters's rights to keep pets, provided that they ask their rental provider first.

What is a pet?

A pet is broadly defined as any animal other than an assistance dog. The renter will have to check with their local council to make sure that the kind of pet they want to keep is allowed under council laws. For example, some councils do not allow residents to keep roosters.

See ss. 3—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Applying to keep a pet

From 2 March 2020, a renter can keep a pet at their rental property if they get permission in writing from their rental provider (landlord) first. A prescribed form is available from Consumer Affairs Victoria. The renter must fill out a form for each pet they would like to keep.

The renter must fill out one form for each pet they would like to keep and give this to the residential rental provider. They should keep a copy. When filling in the application form, the renter should give information to help the rental provider decide whether to agree.

This could include information:

  • about the pet's age, temperament and training (maybe even a pet résumé)
  • references from the vet, trainer or previous rental provider or neighbour
  • explain why you think the property is suitable for keeping a pet.

See 'Pet request form' under the 'Renting' section in Consumer Affairs Victoria—Forms and publications(opens in a new window).

Does not apply if rental provider has already consented to a pet

This applies to renters in existing residential rental agreements who do not currently have permission to keep pets. But it does not apply to existing agreements if the rental provider has already given permission for a pet or pets to live at the property. This means that if a rental provider has already agreed to a pet living in the rental property, there is no need to ask them again.

Pets in caravan parks, rooming houses or site parks

This law only applies to residential rental properties, it does not apply to caravan park residents, residential parks or rooming house residents.

Rooming house residents can only keep a pet if they get permission from the rooming house operator.

People living in caravan parks or residential (Part 4A) site parks must follow the park rules about pets.

The Consumer Affairs Victoria site has information about the new laws and tips on ways the renter should approach their application(s). There is also a link to the application form.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria—Pets in rental properties(opens in a new window).

If rental provider wants to refuse

A rental provider must not unreasonably refuse to allow a renter to keep a pet. If they want to refuse permission, the rental must apply to VCAT for an order that it is reasonable to refuse consent to keep a pet. The rental provider has 14 days to apply to VCAT.

If the rental provider does not do this, the renter can assume that the rental provider consents.

VCAT may order that:

  • the renter can keep a pet, or
  • the rental provider's refusal is reasonable and the pet should be excluded from the property (from a particular date).

If the rental provider does not apply to VCAT within 14 days of getting a written request from the renter, the renter can presume that they agree and they can keep the pet.

See ss. 3, 71A, 71C, 71E—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).(opens in a new window)

Win for renters at VCAT

In this case a rental provider applied to VCAT seeking an order for reasonable refusal. They argued that an 8-week-old German Shorthaired Pointer would be at risk of jumping over the railings on the 3rd story strata roof terrace and so permission to keep the dog should be denied. The rental provider also claimed that keeping pets was against an owners' corporation rule prohibiting pets.

Held: Not realistic to think the dog would jump over the barrier and the pet keeping clause in the Residential Tenancies Act superseded the owners' corporation rule.

See Jaggers v Webster & Ors (Residential Tenancies) [2020] VCAT 556 (8 May 2020)(opens in a new window)

What VCAT will consider

When making a decision about whether or not to allow the rental provider to refuse the renter's application to keep a pet VCAT may consider:

  • the type of pet the renter has, or wants to keep
  • the character and nature of the rented premises
  • the character and nature of the fixtures and fittings on the rented premises
  • if refusing consent is permitted under any Act (for example if a renter wanted to keep a native animal)
  • any other prescribed matters
  • anything else VCAT considers relevant.

See s. 71D(2)—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If renter is housing a pet without permission

If the rental provider discovers that a renter is housing a pet without their permission, they may apply to VCAT for an order to exclude the pet from the rented premises.

See s. 71E—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If renter contravenes the VCAT exclusion order

If VCAT has made an order excluding a pet from a rental property, the renter has 14 days of the notice taking effect to comply with the order. If they do not get rid of the pet within 14 days, the rental provider may give a 28-day notice to vacate.

See s. 91ZZG—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If pet causes damage

If the pet causes damage beyond what is considered to be normal 'wear and tear', the renter will have to repair any damage caused. The rental provider may issue a notice for Breach of Duty.

The rental provider can come and inspect the property, but no more frequently than every 6 months.

Rental providers are not allowed to charge an additional bond to protect against damage a pet may cause.

See ss. 72AA, 86(1)(f)—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Damage must be reported

The renter has a responsibility to report damage to the rental provider.

See ss. 62, 86(1)(f)—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Pets in flats

If the renter wants to rent in a block of flats or apartment building, they are also likely to have to deal with the rules of the Owners corporation (body corporate) which often do not allow pets.

See Owners corporation—Rules and model rules.

Noisy pets

Most problems with pets in rental properties involve complaints by neighbours about noise. This is more common with dogs than other pets. Many problems can be avoided if new renters introduce their pets to their neighbours and proactively ask them to communicate if their dogs are barking while they are not there.

Barking can be an indication of boredom, or the dog being territorial or because it has separation anxiety.

See ss. 60, 61, 208—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Breach of duty notice

If the neighbours complain about a noisy animal or animal smells, the rental provider can give the renter a Breach of duty notice stating that the renter has to stop their pet from causing a nuisance or damaging the property. The rental provider can give the renter a notice to vacate if the renter has already received 2 breach of duty notices about the same issue before.

The renter may have to get rid of their pet if they cannot keep it quiet.

See s. 208—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Breach of duty notice

Compliance order

The renter has 14 days to sort out the problem. If the problem is not resolved within this 14-day period the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a compliance order. The rental provider will have to prove that the renter's pet is being a nuisance or causing damage before VCAT will give this compliance order. The renter can go to the VCAT hearing and tell their side of the story.

See s. 209—Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Pet causing a danger to neighbours

A rental provider may give the renter an immediate notice to vacate if the pet is causing a danger to neighbours. The rental provider will have to apply to VCAT and prove that the pet is dangerous. This might happen for example if the renter's dog has bitten a neighbour's child.

See 'Pets and your tenancy' in Tenants Victoria—Publications(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines 'pet', 'renter', 'residential rental provider'
  • s. 17—transitional provision makes it clear that the forthcoming changes making it easier for renters to keep pets will apply to existing tenancy agreements if the renter wants to keep a pet.
  • s. 60—renter must not cause a nuisance
  • s. 61—renter must avoid damage to premises
  • s. 62—renter must notify rental provider of damage
  • s. 71A—renter may keep pet at rented premises with consent or VCAT order
  • s. 71B—renter's request for consent to keep a pet on rented premises
  • s. 71C—residential rental provider must not unreasonably refuse to consent to keep a pet on rental premises
  • s. 71D—application to refuse consent to keep a pet on rented premises or exclude a pet from rented premises
  • s. 71E—VCAT orders, pets
  • s. 91ZZG—notice to vacate when pet kept without consent
  • s. 91ZI—notice to vacate for damage
  • s. 91ZJ—notice to vacate may be given for danger
  • s. 91ZZO—failure to comply with VCAT order
  • s. 91ZP—successive breaches by renter
  • s. 208—breach of duty notice
  • s. 209—application for a compensation or compliance order for breach of duty

See Residential Tenancies Act 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Consumer Affairs Victoria

This page has information about a renter's right to keep a pet and tips about how the renter should approach their application to their rental provider.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria—Pets and Renting(opens in a new window).

Tenants Victoria

Tenants Victoria has fact sheets about the law relating to keeping pets when renting. Tenants Victoria suggest that renters who have difficulty with pets in rented accommodation should get advice from them.

See Tenants Victoria—Pets and your tenancy(opens in a new window).

See also:

Victoria Legal Aid

Victoria Legal Aid has a publication with information about pets and neighbours. This publication was formerly maintained by the Victoria Law Foundation.

See Victoria Law Foundation—Dogs, cats, neighbours & you.(opens in a new window)

Updated