As a landlord, can’t legally reject tenant applications based on whether they have pets or not — unless you have very strong grounds. And this can actually be a good thing! Having pets provides a greater pool of tenants to choose from and often, pet owners keep longer tenancies.
There are some risks involved — just as there are if you have pets yourself — but there are some easy ways to minimise these.
Get your agent to thoroughly screen tenants
Remember — a pet is only as good as its owner. Ask your agent to check all the references and call the potential tenant’s former landlords to see how they feel, just make sure they ask the question ‘would you rent to them again?’
Sort out a ‘pet’ bond
Western Australia is the only state in which you can implement a pet bond — and even then it’s only for $260 — but landlords can ask for more on the tenant’s bond. This is fairly easy to negotiate, except in cases where the original weekly rental amount is less than $350 in a lease of up to five years or $760 per week in a lease of more than five years.
In this instance, you need to apply to your state’s Civil Administrative Tribunal to seek approval to take more than four weeks’ rent as a bond. Bear in mind, you have to have reasonable grounds to do so and the additional finance has to be within reason.
Notice of breach
If your agent has noticed extensive damage, like destroyed garden beds, when inspecting the rental, you’re within your rights to issue a Notice for breach of duty. This notice may require the tenant to fix any damages and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Escalate to your state’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal
If the pet is continuing to cause extreme damage in your home, you can apply to your state’s tribunal for a compliance order which legally requires that the tenant complies with the breach of duty notice and/or pays to have the damage fixed. However, bear in mind that you must have significant cause to do this and the onus will be on you to prove that the pet was the cause of the damage.
At the end of the day...
While it’s always a good idea to have the resources at your disposal, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to take any action when you have a tenant with pets. One study has found that 63 per cent of landlords who were concerned about pets in their property didn’t encounter any of the problems they feared. And, when there was damage, it was far less than the average bond.