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Should you encourage landlords to allow pets?

By Philippe Brach
17 January 2017 | 10 minute read
cat standing arms outstretched

With floor stains, scratch marks and garden damage a potential outcome, why should landlords allow pets in their property?

The decision to allow pets in an investment property is important. And when you start thinking about dog hair, possible claw marks and minor damage to a half-a-million-dollar investment, it’s tempting to say no, which the majority of Australian landlords do.

However, the math is pretty straightforward. If every potential tenant who owns a pet is excluded, you’re eliminating a huge number of households from your rental pool – 60 per cent, according to the Australian Companion Animal Council.

A survey by the Real Estate Institute of Australia revealed that 40 per cent of investors do not allow pets and 28 per cent are sure whether they do or not. Talk about finding a niche market of renters.

If all those renters with pets – and there are millions of them – are hunting for the rare property that will allow their furry friends to stay, wouldn’t that make pet-friendly homes more sought-after? Yes it would, and in fact realestate.com.au says that renters are often willing to pay a little extra to cover their pets staying too.

How can landlords benefit from allowing pets?

• Higher rental returns. Pet owners can be willing to pay a little more if it means the difference between keeping their pet or not.

• Larger pool of renters. Having a property that’s desirable to a significantly larger pool of households, one that sets it apart from most of the other listings on the market, can significantly reduce downtime between tenants.


• Longer tenancies. The Real Estate Institute of Australia says tenants with pets tend to stay in the same place longer to avoid disruption to their animals. If they are good tenants, and your agent makes regular property visits to ensure the property is looked after, that can only be good news.

• Responsible tenants. Tenants with pets can prove to be more respectful of the property and provide better upkeep. They will be aware whether the landlord has included a ‘make good’ clause in the contract and that they will ultimately be responsible for the cost of all repairs.

• Security. Allowing a dog can deter burglars and vandals.

If your concern is damage to the property, fear not. The Residential Tenancy Authority says that the onus falls on the tenants to clean up and repair any damage made by their pets, and that investors can include specific clauses relating to pets in the contract, such as:

• The type of pets allowed (for example, small dogs, cats, fish).

• How many pets can stay on the property.

• Whether animals, such as dogs, must be outdoors only.

If your landlord decides to allow pets, there are several ways they can protect yourself:

• Include a clause in the contract stating that tenants must disclose all their pets so you know what you’re getting into when you agree to their tenancy.

• Ask to personally meet the animals of your shortlisted tenants.

• Disqualify animals that don’t suit the property. For example, if there is a small courtyard, only allow small dogs instead of larger breeds.

A landlord can be as flexible as they choose when it comes to pets. Just remember that with so many pet owners out there, a property that welcomes animals has an enormous competitive advantage in the rental market.

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