The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has called on the state government to hold off on introducing a new “pet provision” to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Under the new provisions, a landlord will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent for a tenant to keep a pet. There will be a requirement that, if a tenant wants to have a pet and the landlord does not want a pet there, the landlord will have to make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 14 days. In the absence of an application, the landlord is deemed to have provided consent.

In a statement, the REIV said that the provision’s imminent introduction of will result in “widespread confusion, long delays at VCAT, and an increase in surrendered and abandoned animals.” 

“Recent developments and a growing lack of clarity make it essential that the Andrews’ Government holds off on the 02 March 2020 introduction of the ‘pet legislation’ until answers can be provided to many questions and some sense of balance is returned to this issue,” said Gil King, chief executive officer of REIV. “What seems to be an unintended consequence is that now an owner must apply to the landlord for permission on a prescribed form for every animal that is intended to be kept on a leased property.”

The REIV also expressed concern that a rush to have pets in rented premises will overload VCAT with objection applications by landlords and will ultimately result in a spike in the number of pets surrendered or abandoned a few months later.

“A pet is for life, not just for the period of a tenancy,” said King. “There is no guarantee that if a renter moves address, they will be allowed to have the pet at the new property. [Therefore] the REIV is calling on the Andrews’ Government to delay the already announced 2nd of March introduction of these new provisions until these issues are resolved.”