This is the first article in a three-part series where we take a detailed look at the key 1 October 2022 tenancy law changes relating to renting with pets, repairs and ending a tenancy.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the changes to support Queenslanders to negotiate renting with a pet and outline both how a tenant can request to keep a pet and how the property manager/owner can respond.
A list of helpful resources, including our new pet request and approvals flow charts, is provided at the end of this article.
What is a pet?
A pet is a domesticated animal or an animal that is dependent on a person for the provision of food or shelter and does not include a working dog or an animal prescribed by the regulation not to be a pet.
Different rules apply for working dogs, which refer to assistance dogs, guide dogs or hearing dogs, corrective services dogs or police dogs. A tenant may keep a working dog at the premises without the lessor’s approval. While a tenant doesn’t need to ask for permission to keep a working dog, the RTA recommends they inform the property manager/owner they have the dog at the premises.
Starting a tenancy: How can tenants request to keep a pet at the start of a tenancy?
The 1 October 2022 legislation changes only apply to requesting a pet during an existing tenancy. They do not affect how tenants and property managers/owners negotiate keeping a pet at the start of a tenancy.
When applying for a rental property, tenants should advise the property manager/owner about any existing pets to ensure they have permission to keep them at the property. The pets should be included in the tenancy agreement, which should outline the number and type of pets, whether they should be kept inside or outside, and any special terms.
A tenant may only keep pets at the premises if the property manager/owner gives them permission. Keeping a pet (excluding working dogs) without written approval is a significant breach of the tenancy agreement.
During a tenancy: How can tenants request to keep a pet during a tenancy?
Tenants can request to keep a pet using the Request for approval to keep pet at premises (Form 21) and submitting it to their property manager/owner via email, in-person or post. Tenants will need to complete a separate form for each pet and should provide as much information as possible (such as what type of animal it is, weight and size) to help the property manager/owner make an informed decision.
The property manager/owner must respond to the tenant’s pet request in writing within 14 days of receiving the request and their response must comply with legislation to be valid. If the tenant is submitting their pet request by post, they must allow extra time for the mail to arrive when calculating the date that the property manager/owner must respond by. If the property manager/owner does not respond with a valid written response within the 14-day timeframe, the pet request is taken to be approved by the property manager/owner.
If a pet has been approved to live in the rental property, and the tenancy is renewed or extended, the tenant does not need to submit another pet request. The approval to keep the pet at the rental property continues for the life of the pet. This applies even if there’s a change of property manager or owner.
How can the property manager/owner respond to a pet request?
The property manager/owner should respond in writing to either approve or refuse the pet within 14 days of receiving the request. Their response must comply with legislation to be valid. If the property manager/owner party does not respond with a valid written response within the 14-day timeframe, the pet request is taken to be approved by the property manager/owner. Property managers/owners can use the RTA’s Pet request response for lessors template as a guide for their response.
If the property manager/owner approves the request, they can put reasonable conditions in place for keeping the pet at the premises. These conditions should be clearly outlined in the response. Approval of a pet is also subject to body corporate by-laws, house rules, park rules and local council restrictions.
If the property manager/owner refuses the pet request, they must provide a specific reason for refusing the request. Approved reasons for refusing a pet request are outlined in the legislation. Stating that no pets are allowed or that having a pet in the rental is not the property manager/owner’s preference are not sufficient grounds to deny the pet.
Important: if a property manager/owner does not respond to a pet request within 14 days, or if their written response does not comply with the legislative requirements, the request will be taken to be approved. If the property manager/owner refuses the pet request, legislative requirements include providing a specific approved reason for their decision.
What reasons can a property manager/owner give for refusing a pet?
Under the 1 October 2022 changes, property managers/owners can only refuse pet requests for the following legislated reasons:
- keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of animals being kept at the premises
- the premises are unsuitable for keeping the pet because of a lack of appropriate fencing, open space or another item necessary to humanely accommodate the pet
- keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the premises and in addition could or would be likely to result in damage that could not practically be repaired for a cost less than the rental bond for the premises
- keeping the pet would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person, including, for example, because the pet is venomous
- keeping the pet would contravene a law
- keeping the pet would contravene a body corporate by-law, house rules or park rules applying to the premises
- the tenant has not agreed to the reasonable conditions proposed by the lessor for approval to keep the pet
- the animal stated in the request is not a pet
- if the premises is a moveable dwelling premises, keeping the pet would contravene a condition of a licence applying to the premises
- other grounds prescribed by regulation.
What reasonable conditions can the property manager/owner negotiate when approving pets?
The legislation does not provide a prescribed list of reasonable conditions, so these should be negotiated between the property manager/owner and the tenant on a case-by-case basis. However, asking for an increase in the rent or bond is not considered a reasonable condition for keeping a pet.
Examples of reasonable conditions for keeping a pet could include:
- requiring the carpet to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy for a dog, cat or other indoor pet with fur
- requiring the property to be professional fumigation at the end of the tenancy if the pet could carry parasites
- requiring the pet to be kept outside (unless it is the type of pet which is not ordinarily kept outside).
What are the tenant’s obligations for keeping pets in a rental?
In addition to any conditions agreed with the property manager/owner, tenants are responsible for any nuisance (such as noise) or damage caused by their pet.
At the end of the tenancy, the tenant must return the premises to the condition it was in at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted. Damage caused by the pet is not considered fair wear and tear.
What if the tenant and the property manager/owner have a disagreement over a pet?
There may be times when a property manager/owner and tenant don’t agree on whether a pet should be allowed in the rental. There may also be cases where the two parties have a disagreement about a pet during the tenancy.
In either situation, the property manager/owner and the tenant should talk to each other and try to come to an agreement. If they cannot come to an agreement, the RTA’s free and impartial dispute resolution service may be able to help.
You can find out more about the 1 October 2022 legislation changes on the RTA’s rental law changes resource webpage.
If you’d like to learn more about renting with pets under the new legislation:
- view our renting with pets approval process flow chart – NEW
- view a renting with pets – body corporate approval flow chart (Office for Body Corporate and Community Management) – NEW
- read our renting with pets factsheet
- watch our renting with pets short video (2.42mins)
- watch our renting with pets webinar
- listen to our podcast episode about renting with pets under the new laws
- read our renting with pets webpage
- read our Request for approval to keep a pet in a rental property (form 21)
- read our pet request response for lessors template.