Yesterday, we touched on the new legislation changes with regard to emergency repairs in residential tenancies. Today, we are going to share a little about the new pet laws that are being introduced.
Whether you are personally a pet lover or are not really a fan, the upcoming changes to legislation surrounding the approval and/or refusal of pets in rental properties in Queensland are fairly significant and as an investor, you need to be aware of how this looks.
Pet Approvals & Refusals
From October 1st, it will no longer be enough to just say no, if a tenant requests a pet. We will no longer be able to state “no pets allowed”.
There are only going to be a limited number of prescribed reasons why an owner is able to refuse a pet request and although these are pretty straightforward, at times common sense is going to need to come into play.
As an owner, the hardest part is going to be removing the emotion from the decision when a request for a pet is received. As an example, if you have had a poor experience in the past, then this is not going to be grounds to refuse a request. Likewise, if you don’t like cats, that is not sufficient reason to say no if your tenant requests permission for one.
Conditions for Approval of Pets
The good news is that a pet request may be subject to conditions. Of course, these conditions must be reasonable and this is where common sense needs to come into play. Adding a condition that a small, white fluffy lap-dog is to remain outside at all times is not going to cut it. Nor is stipulating that a cat cannot be allowed inside the property, particularly when we all know that cats go where they want anyway (or is that just the furry felines we’ve come across?).
But, refusing a request for a Great Dane when the property is located on the third floor of an apartment complex is probably not going to be seen as unreasonable. Likewise, refusing chickens as pets when a townhouse only has a small patch of grass in the courtyard or a miniature pony in a backyard where there is no shade or shelter. These reasons for refusal are definitely reasonable.
Damage Caused by a Pet
It is very clear in the new legislation that the tenant is responsible for any damage that is caused by the pet and also any nuisance caused.
And, as tempting as it may be to ask for a “pet bond”, we can’t do that. It’s illegal and always has been. Also, we can’t increase the rent simply because they have a pet – the regulations are very clear about this too.
Our Agency’s Approach
There is a very clear process that tenants will be required to follow when requesting a pet – they just can’t bring a new pet home and then tell us about it.
We must receive a Pet Request from them in writing (we have a form for that) and we will explain this to our new and existing tenants very carefully. If we do receive a request for a pet, we will then advise you of the details and seek your instructions.
The most important thing to note here is that if there are strict timeframes around the response that must be provided to the tenant. If they do not receive a “yay” or “nay” within 14 days of their request, then they are automatically provided with approval for the pet, regardless of how appropriate or not it may be. There can be no dilly-dallying around once a pet request is received.
We will advise the tenants of your instructions in writing with either the approval conditions or the grounds for refusal, if applicable.
If the tenant does not agree with the conditions or objects to a refusal, they are then able to proceed to tribunal and QCAT will make the decision for all parties involved.
What’s Important to Remember
This new legislation provides very clear steps around the action a tenant has to take if they would like a pet at their property which actually makes the process much more transparent – always a good thing.
If you have any concerns about how this change in legislation may impact your personal situation, please reach out and we will create a plan together.
In tomorrow’s update, we are going to look at the changes to how a tenancy can be ended, come October 1st and how this impacts property owners.