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22 July, 2022

Pet friendly rental laws coming soon

CHANGES to Queensland’s tenancy laws in October have been welcomed by a local animal refuge that says it has become common for people to surrender their pets in a bid to get accepted for a rental home.

By Robyn Holmes

Pet friendly rental laws coming soon

New laws will no longer allow landlords to put a blanket ban on pets when they advertise their rental homes and only allow a property owner to refuse a pet on prescribed grounds. 

The news comes as Mareeba Animal Refuge manager Jennifer Walsh says her facility is seeing a lot more pets surrendered because of the difficulty in getting an approval for a rental if pets are involved. 

She said moving house had always been a major contributing factor to the reasons that people were forced to surrender their animals, but lately the situation had been exacerbated by the lack of available rentals and people’s desperation to find a home. 

“It has always been very difficult to find a rental property that will allow pets. Now in these times of desperate shortage of rental properties available at all, the problem has been exacerbated,” Ms Walsh said. 

“So many more people are homeless now and have no option but to give up their pets. 

“Especially over the last few weeks we have had an influx of both dogs and cats for this very reason and currently we have a surrender waitlist for dogs that is quite long. 

“We are also aware that all the other refuges in Cairns and surrounds are finding the same problem. 

Our biggest worry is, what is happening to all these poor animals who can’t find placement in a facility such as ours?” 

The new laws dictate that landlords can only refuse a pet on the basis that the rental property is unsuitable for the proposed pet, the pet poses an unacceptable risk to health and safety, or keeping the pet would breach laws, by-laws or park rules. 

However, landlords can impose “reasonable” conditions on having the pet at the rental property such as if the pet is not a type of animal ordinarily kept inside, they can require it to be kept outside at the premises. 

If the pet is capable of carrying parasites that could infest the premises, landlords can impose a condition requiring the premises to be professionally fumigated at the end of the tenancy, and if the pet is allowed inside the premises, they can require carpets to be professionally cleaned when tenants move out. 

FNQ Power Property manager Andrea Walker said that with the lack of rental houses available, it was a sad reality that some prospective tenants surrendered their pets to get approved. 

“It’s more common than we’d like and it’s heart breaking to see that people have to do this to get a home,” she said.

“I have pets and I know I could never give them up, so I really feel for these people, but I also understand property owners who have been burned before with damage done to houses through pets and they don’t want that to happen again.” 

She said there were a number of other changes to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009 which come into effect on 1 October. 

“It’s certainly getting harder to keep up with all the changes but that’s why having a professional manage the property can be advantageous for property owners because that’s our job to keep up with those changes,” Ms Walker said.

“For example, the new laws allow tenants to undertake ‘minor repairs’ to the property without the owner’s consent and you have to be aware of what constitutes a minor repair. 

“Some private owners don’t think they have to comply with the laws and that’s when you can get yourself into trouble.

“I think it’s in their interest to let a professional deal with these things.”

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