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New Pet Legislation

By Katherine Gedye

Consumer Affairs Victoria recently announced new laws in relation to pets in rental properties would be introduced early and commence on Monday 2nd March 2020.

The new laws mean it will be easier for renters (tenants) to have a pet.​​​ Under the law, a pet is any animal except an assistance dog.

Renters will be required to complete a Pet Request form to ask their rental provider for consent to keep a pet at the rented premises. A separate form will need to be completed for each pet a renter wants to keep at the rented premises.

​​​​​​​Before seeking consent, renters should check that the pet they intend to keep complies with existing council laws or other laws. These laws still apply regardless of whether the rental provider consents to the pet.

Refusing consent

A rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse consent to a renter wishing to keep a pet. If a rental provider wants to refuse, they have 14 days to apply for a VCAT order.

VCAT may order that, either:

  • ​​​​the rental provider’s refusal is reasonable and/or the pet should be excluded from the property (meaning the renter cannot keep the pet on the premises), or
  • the renter can keep the pet.

If the rental provider does not apply to VCAT within 14 days of receiving the written request, they are taken to have consented to the request.

What reasonable grounds will VCAT consider?

Before arriving at a decision, VCAT may consider the following factors:

  • the type of pet the renter wants to keep, or is keeping, on the property
  • the character and nature of the property itself, including appliances, fixtures and fittings
  • whether refusing consent to keep the pet on the property is allowed under any Act.

Pet-related damage

If a pet damages the rental property, the renter must repair any pet-related damage that goes beyond ‘fair wear and tear’.

​​​​​​​Do the new laws apply to pre-existing pets?

The new laws do not apply to rental properties that already have pets. If a renter has a pet before 2nd March, 2020 in the rental property, there is no need to seek the written consent of the rental provider again.

However, if the renter wants to bring a new pet into the property, they must request the rental provider’s consent in writing. They must use the Consumer Affairs Victoria Pet Request form. Renters can do this by email if both parties have agreed to communicating in this way.

​​​In the event the renter requests a pet at their rental property, we will make contact with you to discuss the options available. It is important to note that the legislation does state that the rental provider cannot withhold consent, but it does also provide an avenue through VCAT to reject a renters request for a pet.

We will still adhere to our high standards as we navigate these changes. In the meantime, we highly recommend that you contact your insurance provider to confirm coverage of pets in your rental property. If you don’t currently have landlord insurance, please visit http://raywhiteinsurance.com.au/ for more information.

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