How to negotiate a pet-friendly lease

An overwhelming 64% of Australian households have a pet, yet only 25% of listed properties are advertised as pet friendly, meaning there’s a good chance that your proposed lease will include a no-pets clause.

But this isn’t because property managers don’t like pets - in fact many have pets themselves. Instead, the fact remains that many property managers have experienced a horror story with a tenant’s pet.

Some pets - especially dogs - can cause damage to the property, create noise complaints and in some cases, harm neighbours or other rents. Although not certain, it’s possible to show that your pet won’t bark all day and wreck the property. So how do you prove that your pet isn’t a total liability for your property manager?

1. Include a pet reference

References from previous landlords are your most convincing way of proving that your pet has a good track record with rental properties. If you can, ask your previous landlord for a statement or reference, highlighting the condition in which the previous property was left, and if true, a lack of complaints about the animal. This proves to your prospective landlord that your pet has experience in rental properties and is significantly less likely to represent any risk.

2. Get a letter from the vet

Get a letter from your vet outlining your pets vaccination history, breed characteristics, registration information and training history. This will show the property manager that you are an organised and responsible pet owner.

3. Get Renter’s insurance

Consider getting renters insurance and ensure that the policy covers pets and any damage that is caused by them. This shows a financial commitment to ensuring the landlord isn’t left out of pocket if any damage was to occur by your pet. Otherwise, consider agreeing on paying for any damage that is caused by your pet, and have it outlined in the contract.

4. Introduce your pet!

If all else fails, consider bringing your pet along with you for an interview with the prospective property manager. This allows them to see the nature of your pet and if your pet is well behaved, is likely to inspire confidence from the property manager.

Be sure to understand relevant laws

Pets remain part of a grey space when it comes to rental laws, so it’s important to understand your state’s laws.

Can you bring a pet to your rental property?

In New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, tenants are assumed to be allowed to keep pets with them, unless otherwise stated in the lease agreement. In all other states, leases need to explicitly express that permission has been granted for pets to live on the premises.

Do you need to pay a “pet bond”?

In all states except for Western Australia, demanding a pet bond is illegal. The maximum bond in most states is 4 weeks’ rent and any demand for a pet bond in addition to this is illegal and therefore cannot be lodged with a state bond authority. Instead, it is held by the property manager in most cases and due to no regulatory body being responsible for the extra bond, it can be far more difficult to have your pet bond returned at the end of the lease.

In most cases, it is illegal for your property manager to demand professional or steam cleaning at the end of the lease, rather the property just needs to be to an adequate standard as outlined in the lease agreement. However, for renters that have pets, this is wavered, meaning that you can be legally required to hire professional cleaning services at the end of your lease, so as to eliminate any mess created by your pet.