Don't dismiss a tenant's desire for pets: PM experts

It's naive for landlords and property managers to ignore a tenant's desire to have pets, according to two property management experts.

According to Karen Horsfall, body corporate manager at The Investors Club, which manages 17,000 properties nationally, buyers can easily challenge complete bans on having pets if they are well briefed on council rules and enter negotiations with the spirit of compromise. 

“It’s true that not everyone likes pets, but ‘no pet’ policies are not hard and fast. We are starting to see more of independent adjudicators ruling against bodies corporate,” Ms Horsfall said.

Similarly, Queensland principal Luke Carter, of Amber Werchon Property, said being mindful of the needs of neighbours, tenants and owners was the key to successfully negotiating pet ownership in rental homes.

“It is unreasonable to think tenants are not going to keep pets because they are a part of everyone’s life, but it is important for a tenant and owner to be upfront and open with their expectations,” he said.

“We advise clients to include any pets on the application form from the start.”

Australia has one of the highest incidences of pet ownership in the world.

According to The Investors Club, 12 million Australian households are associated with pets, with 91 per cent of pet owners reporting they feel “very close” to their pet.

“By-laws that prevent an owner or tenant from keeping any animal, even something as inoffensive as a single goldfish, are unduly and not reflective of Australia’s love for animals,” Ms Horsfall said.

“Tenants and buyers need to be aware that bodies corporate cannot absolutely prohibit the keeping of any animal in any circumstances.”

Ms Horsfall suggests five tips for negotiating pets with a landlord or body corporate:

-    Check your council rules. A standard rule is for a property of less than 600sqm, the maximum number of dogs that can be kept is two, regardless of size
-    An applicant must have approval from the body corporate before bringing or keeping a pet within a scheme
-    Be aware that the body corporate must be fair and reasonable with its refusal
-    Check clauses in your lease agreement
-    Before you go to the body corporate, you must first have agreement from the landlord

According to Mr Carter, one way to combat issues with anti-pet body corporates and landlords is to create an extra bond for the animal, however under Queensland law, where his agency is based, this is prohibited.

“I have had clients who know their pets are well behaved and are more than willing to pay an extra bond to cover their animal, however restrictions in Queensland law mean this is not allowed,’ he said.

“This would be a perfect way to resolve any issue.”

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