In the property management industry – this can be code for, I forgot the inspection and am covering for the fact that we bought a dog and didn’t ask. Sometimes it might actually be that they have a family member who needed their fur baby sat for a small amount of time.
There are often tell-tale signs of an unapproved dog at the property. This could be a little dog hair on the mats or couches, dog bowls or toys in the yard or perhaps the giveaway was the whining coming from the locked shed.
As a landlord where do you stand?
Legally speaking, the tenants have broken the tenancy agreement if pets weren’t permitted or if the tenancy agreement allows for one dog and there are now two. This would be considered a breach of the tenancy.
A breach of the tenancy agreement can be a standard process to follow – you discuss the issue with the tenant, issue a Remedy to Breach and ensure the breach is rectified within the allowed time-frame.
If the tenant has advised that the pet is still at the property after the time-frame has passed then there is a choice of two paths to take.
1. Amend the Tenancy Agreement
If you decide that you can accept the newest member of your tenant’s family, the best thing is to amend the tenancy agreement to include the dog and add additional clauses to cover the responsibilities of the tenant in relation to the dog. In some states, not Queensland, a pet bond may need to be paid by the tenants.
2. End the Tenancy Agreement
The tenants and their new friend will have to vacate the property. This would be treated as a break lease and the tenants would be responsible for the costs associated with breaking their lease which could include:
- Letting fee
- Testing smoke alarm.
They are also responsible for the rent up to the date the new tenant moves into the property. The rent amount does need to match the amount the current tenants are paying and cannot be increased.
Don’t Forget the Flea Spray
If the tenant has just been pet sitting at the property then it is a good idea to advise the tenant that as a pet has been at the property they should ensure the property is sprayed for fleas. Fleas can lay eggs in grass or on soft furnishings and they can lay dormant for some time. A receipt should be produced by the tenant from a licensed pest control company to verify the flea spray has been completed.
If you do decide to amend the tenancy agreement this is also the perfect time to renegotiate other aspects of the agreement as the tenant has initiated the change – you could potentially change the rent amount or the length of the tenancy or address wear and tear on the property.
In October 2022, new rental reform laws will be coming into effect.
These changes will support parties to reach agreement on renting with pets. Prescribed reasonable grounds for refusing a request for approval to keep pets will be introduced (such as keeping the pet would breach laws or by-laws). Strict timeframes will also apply for property owners/managers to respond to any requests for a pet or the request will be considered approved.
Supporting information and resources on this future change will be made available by the RTA and REIQ closer to implementation.
About the Author
Rebecca Fogarty | Director | Blackbird and Finch
One of the profession’s most outstanding performers, Rebecca has dedicated over 15 years to the property management industry. She has earned a reputation for out-of-the-box thinking and pure determination. Rebecca’s expertise, reputation and systemised approach has captured intense customer loyalty over the years. Read more.