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  • David Woolfall

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018: Pets

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

This is our third post in our series regarding the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 which will come into effect on or before 1stJuly 2020.

I thought today I would take a look at what has been seen to be one of the more controversial amendments, the amendments regarding pets.

These amendments provide clarity to the issue of pets. Currently, most rental agreements contain clauses that either ban pets from a property, or provide permission for an approved pet or pets to be kept at the property, however nothing was mentioned in legislation, so any disputes regarding pets has been left to VCAT to determine and VCAT has tended to not enforce clauses banning pets.

The existing situation has encouraged renters obtaining pets and then attempting to hide the pet during inspections, which makes it difficult as an agent to manage the issue, with stories such as “I am only looking after the pet for family whilst they are sick or away” and similar style reasons from renters.

The new legislation will require a renter wishing to have a pet to disclose this to the residential rental provider, with a request in writing being required. The rental provider will then have 14 days to make application to VCAT to ban pets on reasonable grounds. Rental Providers are not permitted to unreasonably refuse permission. When making a ruling VCAT will be required to consider; the type of pet, the character and nature of the property, the character and nature of appliances, fixtures and fittings at the property, other legislation that may prohibit pets, other prescribed matters, and anything else it may consider relevant. If a renter has obtained a pet without approval then the rental provider may seek an order to have the pet excluded from the property.

Overall, I think these amendments will help prevent renters from keeping pets that the rental provider does not know about. It will make it easier for agents to manage tenancies with pets as we have clarity on the issue and renters will be encouraged to be honest about any pets they are keeping.

Whilst I know there are many rental providers that would prefer that pets are not permitted in their properties it will be far better that we know the pets are there and we can have a sensible discussion about issues with the renter as they are not trying to hide the pet.

In conclusion, this amendment will help rental providers and their agents better manage tenancies with pets and I also think that it will help with VCAT claims where pets have clearly caused damage.

Again, it is important as a residential rental provider that you appoint a competent agent to manage the property. Over the coming years these amendments will weed out the dodgy and incompetent agents.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss further please give me a call on 0419 018 005 or email david@woolfallresidential.com.au

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