Australia has one of the highest rates of household pet ownership in the world, with 62 per cent of households having a pet.
It is little wonder then, that in a high rental state like Queensland that there’s a correspondingly high demand for pet friendly accommodation.
In Queensland 39 per cent of households have a dog, 24 per cent have a cat and 12 per cent have both.
Pets have become our companions and are considered by many as part of the family.
The term ‘fur baby’ has been used to describe this phenomenon with both the Oxford English and the Macquarie Dictionaries admitting the term to their pages in 2015.
Dismissing this as a passing fad would be denying the fact that there is clear and present demand for pets as part of a household.
It is a contentious issue which shows no signs of going away.
There’s been comment from quite a few quarters that pets are so fundamental to our way of life that they should be automatically admitted to rental premises.
Given the demand for pet friendly premises it’s a surprising that only about 10 per cent of Queensland’s rental properties allow pets.
The usual response from property manager/owners for disallowing pets is that they will cause damage to the property/gardens and attract pests (like fleas) if kept indoors.
The humidity in Queensland is an ideal breeding ground for fleas.
Current legislation requires tenants to get written permission in their tenancy agreement to have a pet in their rental property and stipulates they are also responsible for any damage to the property caused by their pets.
The special terms can also stress that tenants have the property fumigated and the carpets cleaned when their tenancy is up.
While there are no hard and fast statistics available, it’s estimated about 30 per cent of pets are surrendered to the RSPCA because of their owners’ changed living arrangements, which includes moving into rental properties where pets are not allowed.
Given the scarcity of pet-friendly homes for rent it may warrant a rethink by property managers/owners about their attitude towards pets in rentals.
According to expert opinion, over the next couple of years, the supply of apartments in Australia is set to increase substantially with a large proportion of these properties ending up as rentals.
This will mean tougher competition for tenants. To mitigate the oversupply, landlords will need to make their properties more attractive pet-wise to avoid vacancy and lower rental yields.
Western Australia is the only state where a landlord can ask for a pet bond of up to $260.00.
Landlord insurance is another area that needs to be factored in, as most policies do not cover for damage caused by pets.
There are also issues surrounding anti-discrimination. For example, a landlord is not allowed to exclude a tenant whose pet is trained to assist with a disability, such as a guide or assistance dog.