Pets and rental properties – it's a combination which often sparks fierce debate. However, for those of you animal-loving renters across the state, rest assured, times have changed – no longer will you be forced to choose between having a furry friend and having a roof over your head.
As of 2 March 2020, all tenants in Victoria will now have the right to keep a pet in their rental property, with written consent from their landlord. This new rental reform does not apply to tenants who are already housing pets at their homes.
According to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), tenants seeking approval must lodge a CAV pet request form or alternatively, seek permission via email if both parties have agreed to electronic communication.
The landlord can only refuse a pet request if the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) orders that it is reasonable to do so - this action must be undertaken within 14 days of receiving the written request, if not, consent is taken to be granted for the tenant to keep a pet on the property.
Before arriving at a decision, VCAT may assess the type of pet the tenant wants to keep, and the character and nature of the rental property, including appliances, fixtures and fittings.
If a pet — which is considered any animal except an assistance dog (a dog trained to perform tasks or functions that assist someone with a disability), damages a rental property beyond fair wear and tear, the tenant will be responsible for any repairs. That being said, tenants cannot be asked to pay pet bonds.
Given the constant high demand for pet-friendly properties, the Victorian rental reforms will benefit all parties involved - pets will be protected, the quality of life for tenants will improve and landlords will be likely to experience longer tenancy length and as a result, lower vacancy rates.