New rental laws are set to take effect in Queensland on 1 October and one of the biggest changes involves pet approvals.

The changes introduced a framework to support negotiations between landlords and tenants who would have pets or would like to have one during their tenancy.

What Queensland’s new rental rules say about pets

Under old rules, landlords could reject tenant requests to keep a pet in a rental property even without providing a reason. This, however, changes under the new laws as landlords will no longer be able to impose a blanket “no pets” policy.

With the new rules, tenants can now request to keep a pet in a rental property by using the new Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) Pet Approval form, which will be available in the RTA website.

Once the landlord or the property manager receives the request, they have 14 days to respond. If they fail to revert to the tenant within two weeks, the request will automatically be approved, and the tenant would be able to keep or get a pet.

When can landlords say no to tenants’ pet requests?

If owners or property managers wish to say no their tenants’ request, they will have to cite specific grounds under the current legislation for doing so. Here are some prescribed grounds for rejecting a pet request:

  • Keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of animals being kept at the premises.
  • The premises are unsuitable for keeping the pet because of a lack of appropriate fencing, open space, or another thing necessary to humanely accommodate the pet.
  • Keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the premises or inclusions that could not practicably be repaired for a cost that is less than the amount of the rental bond for the premises.
  • If there is unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person, like keeping a venomous pet.
  • Keeping the pet would contravene a law or a body corporate by-law.
  • The tenant is not prepared to consent to a condition.

How body corporate by-laws impact pet requests

Landlords can deny approval for pet requests if it would go against the existing by-laws from the body corporate about the premises.

A body corporate committee may also be required to approve pets when the property is subject to by-laws. This approval process can take more than 14 days.

Tenants are reminded to refer to their by-laws to determine whether there are restrictions about pets before considering making a request, as breaching by-laws is considered a violation of tenancy agreement.

However, tenants can still dispute a body corporate committee’s decision through the Body Corporate and Community Management Commission.

What conditions can landlords impose to tenants for keeping pets?

Landlords can set out conditions or requests for approving the pet request. These conditions must be reasonable and must revolve around caring for the pets or how the pet would affect the physical conditions of the property.

Property owners and managers cannot set out conditions involving raising rents or bond in exchange of approving pet requests.

Approvals given prior to the commencement of the new laws will endure. However, all conditions about keeping the pets must be compliant to the new rules.

Here are some examples of reasonable conditions for approving pets:

  • The tenant is responsible for arranging professional fumigation and cleaning at the end of their tenancy.
  • The pet is required to be kept outside the premises if it is not a type of pet ordinarily kept inside homes.

Both landlords and tenants should also take note that any damage caused by pets during tenancy will be excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear — this means that owners will be able to seek compensation for pet-related damages to the premises and inclusions.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said property managers can help landlords navigate the complexities of the new rules on pet requests.

“If property owners are in doubt about how this may apply to their investment property, we encourage them to speak with their property manager,” she said.

Meanwhile, tenants are also encouraged to reach out to the RTA for any further clarification about the new rules.

“Before making any assumptions, we encourage all parties to learn about the new laws and to work cooperatively, referring to the relevant legislation to minimise disputes arising,” Ms Mercorella said.

Photo by Mirida on Canva.