Pets in a Tenancy – Everyone in Darwin has them

It is fair to say that Australians sure LOVE their pets, with an estimated 62% of households said to own one or more. So naturally, the issue of pet ownership and renting is quickly becoming more prevalent. But fear not, this article is here to answer many of the questions that Landlords and Renters alike may be asking.

Where a few states have even created the option of a specialised ‘pet bond’ as a solution, for the most part, this problem is approached in a case-by-case style where the landlord and tenant work it out themselves.

For the owner

In the Northern Territory, it is up to the landlord’s discretion as to whether they will allow pets, or place restrictions on the number or types of pets.

At Absolute Real Estate, we believe in transparency: if you, as an owner, decide to remove a pet clause from your lease agreement, you will drastically narrow the audience of potential tenants AND you will limit the maximum amount of rent you could be earning off the property. It has been estimated that renters are willing to pay up to 14% MORE if they can secure a rental that is pet-friendly.

And in today’s market, every tenant you lose equates to money going into someone else’s pockets.

If you are at all concerned, you can say that pets will ‘be considered upon application’ instead of giving a straight-up ‘no’ response. This will prevent potential renters from feeling discouraged while allowing you to consider the type of pet and its impact on the property.

But what about the leasing of units or apartments? Even if you wanted to consider allowing pets onto your property, you may have to go through the Body Corporate approval process. Frustratingly, this can take up to 8 weeks, and cost up to $250 - unfortunately you won’t get that money back if the application is declined.

But how often are tenants willing to wait up to 8 weeks on an application? The answer is practically never.

We are encouraging our owners to be proactive with their AGM’s and Body Corporate Committee to ask for a blanket rule to say it’s ok for pets who meet a simplified criteria: the allowing of a dog or cat under a particular size or weight could be an example of such blanket rule . A lot of newer units have adopted this method with great success.

And be aware, if the pet is a nuisance or there are disruptions, you can issue a breach of the lease or withdraw the approval.

What about the tenants? What can they do?

Many tenants are going the distance to prove just how well behaved their little friends are. Consider putting together a portfolio with references, photos, ages and sizes of your pet. This will provide owners with more information to help them to make a decision.

Tenants can also offer to do a re-tick check at their own cost; this can assure owners that the tenant will be liable for any damages and this could then encourage the owner to agree to the application.

At the end of a tenancy, you must return the premises in a reasonably clean condition. If a pet has left any marks or mess, you should try to clean the premises to a state that is similar to when you moved in.

If you are an owner without a pet’s clause and you’re having trouble leasing your property, have a chat to your Property Manager to discuss what options are available. Likewise, if you are a tenant and feeling a bit stuck, call our office today, and we can talk to you about your options too!

Other references: Top tips for rending with a pet & Pet resumes.

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