Pet References for Rentals

Wednesday, June 7, 2017  | The Pet Whisperer
Pet References for Rentals

Are you applying for a rental property?

Do you have pets ... naturally you want to take them with you, right?

What can you do to help strengthen your position in the competitive space of being the stand-out candidate for the property?

This was the case for a friend of mine, who has asked for a Pet Reference for them to include as part of their portfolio and application for potential properties they would like to rent.

My response - what a great idea! It is something that is a lot more common in cities as there is a higher rental percentage. But it is something that you should consider getting regardless of your situation or location in order to strengthen your application.

The reality is that renting is becoming very normal and looking increasingly likely for the future due to house pricing and the difficulty in getting on the property ladder. And it would be a sad and tragic event to have to consider alternatives to taking your pets with you to your new rented home. The situation of rescue pets and shelters is a sad one, and although there are great efforts to keep those numbers as low as possible, it is nonsensical to have those numbers potentially increase due to a clause in a rental agreement contract.

It should be noted here that a rental agreement that does not mention a Pet Clause means that by default, the tenant would be allowed to have pet(s). The Landlord needs to include a clause that the tenant must seek written permission, or that pets are not allowed. The landlord needs to opt-out of their property having a pet. By default they are already allowed. 

There is pressure from the Tenants Union and Others to have restictive clauses prohibited from rental agreement contracts. And these are under review - until changes are enacted in law, take the initiative to put yourself in the best possible position.

Ask for a Reference for your pet. Ask someone who knows your pets temperament. Ask someone who has some authority on the topic. Ask someone who you know and who has known your pet for at least a year.

Good examples of reference authors are:

  • Previous Landlord;
  • Current Vet;
  • Pet Boarding Business (that you frequent);
  • Groomer.

Your reference should contain:

  • Details about the temperament of the pet;
  • Details of the authors interaction with the pet;
  • Care level exhibited by the pet owner;
  • Vaccination History - if known;
  • Parasite Treatment History - if known.
  • If you believe that the pet is not likely to cause damage to the property.

In the end, it is currently the Landlords decision, and things that should be playing on their mind would be:

  • Pets (Furbabies) may cause less damage than a real baby;
  • An addition Pet Bond may mitigate extra damage risks - although these are unlawful in NSW - alternatives may be a higher rent to cover risks, potentially decreasing over time as the reality of the property condition is revealed;
  • Potential rental value given that some potential tenants (or themselves) may be highly allergic to pets and could not reside in a premises where pets had lived.
  • There are existing clauses for damage and mandatory professional carpet cleaning upon vacating the property;
  • Insurance may alter;
  • Strata (if applicable) by-laws would also need to be complied with;
  • Becoming more aware of Landlord Rights under the State Tribunal system;
  • The risks of getting a good tenant albeit with a pet may outweigh the risks of a non-pet-owner tenant who may be a bad tenant.

For further information, you could ring The Tenants Union NSW - although when I did, they were very much less than helpful, and did not want to answer any of my questions. You can also ring Fair Trading of your state, who were very helpful.

The Pet Whisperer.

Please note that this document is written as a general nature regarding the idea of obtaining a Pet Reference and this article does not constitute legal advice. All care has been taken when writing this article, but no responsibility whatsoever is taken by the author. Please seek advice available through Tenancy Tribunals and Fair Trading in your state.