More renters are requesting permission to have a pet, but some are hiding it. Image: Canva.
  • During Covid, many renters requested permission to house a pet
  • 4.5 times as many dogs were requested, compared to cats
  • Some tenants still hide pets from landlords

Pets and renting are like chalk and cheese, with the worry still tangible in the minds of many renters.

Were pets allowed in 2021?

As of 2021, in New South Wales, the blanket ban on pets in strata was lifted. Then Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said the new laws are a reflection of broad community sentiment and demonstrate a balanced approach for residents and owner corporations.

“A lot has changed since the Act commenced in 2015, including a huge shift to apartment living as more and more people in NSW are choosing to buy and rent in higher density areas,” Mr Anderson said.

“On top of that, research tells us that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 61 per cent of households including a pet in their family, and 91 per cent of households owning a pet at some point in their lives.”

The Property Tribune contributor Ashleigh Goodchild wrote in August 2021, that WA landlords had the choice whether to accept pets or not in rental properties, but landlords were nonetheless worried about damage from pets. Goodchild noted most rental damage came from humans and not pets.

Investors will leave real estate if pets allowed

That was a major concern in the West this year when significant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were floated in July 2022.

Those changes included allowing tenants to keep pets without seeking permission from the property owner, as well as allowing minor modifications.

The crux of the outcry was simple: the reforms could discourage investors.

More renters want pets, some just hide it

As Covid hit, large swathes of renters asked to be allowed a pet. Property management tool FLK IT OVER released tenancy data over the past two years showing one in four tenancy leases include a pet clause compared to a decade ago when no pets allowed was the default position by landlords.

“When COVID started we saw a dramatic spike in requests for tenants to be allowed to keep chickens, dogs and cats and that spike is continuing,” said Andrew Colagiuri, Founder of FLK IT OVER.

“Dogs are by far the most popular pet with over 35,000 leases signed through the FLK IT OVER platform including at least one dog followed by cats with 8,000 leases which often come in a pair.”

“Chickens are in third place followed by a variety of animals from guinea pigs, mice, snakes to horses and while a single pet is the most common there is a growing number of tenants having more than one pet.”

Mr Colagiuri added that “Despite the shortage of rental properties, landlords are not reverting to the no pets policy, instead they are embracing it, partly because of changes to legislation but also because it’s better to find a quality tenant even if it means allowing a pet.”

“The demand for pets in rentals is steadily increasing by 3% a year since 2017 and for landlords, this increasing demand is important to take note of if they want to realise their full occupancy and maximise their rent potential by appealing to the largest market.

“However there are still many tenants who home a pet midway through their lease and hide it for fear of being not allowed to keep it.” 

Renters also being pet owners could be seen as a green light, wrote Ashleigh Goodchild in a The Property Tribune article last year:

“The benefits of accepting a tenant that has a pet, in my opinion, far out ways the potential downside. Tenants with pets are likely to be more long term and settle into a property a lot easier and more likely to treat the property like their own. They are – by definition – caring individuals.”

The Big Squeaky Apple

Mr Colagiuri said, “Overseas rentals are often purpose built (build to rent) and features like dog flaps on doors and walking tracks in roof gardens are increasingly becoming the norm in this type of accommodation which we are starting to see here in Australia.” 

He also told The Property Tribune that prime examples of these can be found in New York, where along with the usual amenities like a gym, pool, and sauna, growing numbers of properties are being listed with pet friendly features, among other trends like co-working spaces.

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