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Should you allow pets in your investment property?

Dec 22, 2020 |ALISON CHEUNG

There’s no doubt that Aussies love their furry friends.

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 61% of households owning at least one pet.

In fact, there are more pets in Australia than there are humans, according to Animal Medicines Australia.

But what does this mean for your investment property?

If you own an investment property in NSW, you may have heard the news that blanket bans on pets in apartment buildings were found by the NSW Court of Appeal to be in breach of NSW strata scheme laws. This essentially gives the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal the power to rule a no-pets by-law as invalid.

For property investors, this will likely open up the possibility of renting out a pet-friendly apartment when this was not possible previously, even if the owner was comfortable with pets in their property.

Does this mean all NSW apartment residents are now allowed to have pets?

No, even though the NSW Court of Appeal’s decision on the Darlinghurst building has set a strong precedent for pet-owners across the state, this doesn’t actually mean no-pet by-laws in every NSW building has automatically been repealed.

If your apartment building is not currently pet-friendly, you could raise this issue with the building’s owners corporation. You can do this by putting forward a motion on the agenda of the next general meeting or, if it can’t wait, call for an extraordinary general meeting.

If the owners corporation is not willing to change the blanket ban on pets, it may be up to you as the property owner to challenge this by taking the case to the Tribunal.

It’s likely that some owners corporations may still need to play catch up and review their by-laws to reflect the NSW Court of Appeal decision. Even if your building is pet-friendly, apartment owners may still need to provide written notification or seek consent from the building’s owners corporation to allow a tenant to keep a pet in your property.

What to know if you’re considering allowing pets in your investment property

Only 5% of rental properties in NSW explicitly allow tenants to keep a pet, according to data from Rent.com.au. The Rent.com.au figures also show that 43% of rental property listings make no mention of whether a pet is allowed.

If you’re one of the landlords who have either banned pets in their property or haven’t made their stance clear on pet ownership, it could be an opportunity for you to gain a competitive advantage in the rental market by explicitly allowing pets.

Thanks to the scarcity of pet-friendly rental apartments, many tenants are willing to pay a premium for a property where companion animals are permitted.

Renters with pets fork out 30% more in rents in Melbourne’s inner city, while in inner Sydney, they are willing to pay an extra 12%, Domain figures showed. That could potentially make a significant income to your cashflow.

If you are considering allowing your tenants to keep a pet in your property, it’s wise to find out as much as you can about your tenant’s animals. For example, if your tenant wants to bring a larger, high-energy dog breed into your shoebox studio apartment, that may not be ideal.

Earlier this year in Victoria, new renting laws effectively strengthened tenants’ rights to keep a pet. Under these laws, landlords must not “unreasonably refuse” a tenant’s request to bring pets into the property. Any landlord wanting to turn down a pet request would have to take the case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Tips & AdviceRental Property

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Alison has written about property since 2015. Her work has been published by NewsCorp, Domain and Business Insider. Alison is motivated to help Australians make better property investment decisions.

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