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It's now much easier for rental tenants in Victoria to have pets

Sharon Masige
  • Victoria has enacted new laws that let renters keep a pet in their rental property if they have written consent.
  • Tenants will have to fill out a consent form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
  • But if a landlord rejects the application, it's up to them to take it to the civil tribunal.
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From Monday, Victorians will be allowed to keep a pet in their rental property with written consent from their rental provider.

The laws are part of the biggest change to the Residential Tenancies Act since it was enacted more than 20 years ago. They will make it easier for renters and landlords to know their rights when it comes to keeping pets in properties.

“Pets are part of what makes a house feel like a home for many Victorians," Victoria's Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz said in a statement. "With more people are renting now than ever before, it’s time to make this basic right accessible to all animal lovers across the state.”

Tenants asking for approval will have to fill out a consent form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. If a landlord thinks its reasonable to reject the application, it'll be up to them to seek an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative tribunal (VCAT) to refuse the pet.

The tribunal can then take several factors into consideration to decide whether it's okay to keep a pet in a rental. These include if the property isn't suitable for the type of pet tenant wants to keep, whether local councils ban people from keeping certain animals or whether the pet poses a threat to neighbours or other residents.

The landlord has 14 days to apply to VCAT and if you don't hear from the tribunal within that time period, you get to keep your pet.

Last week, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria called on the Victorian government to hold off on the new laws as it would "overload VCAT with objection applications by landlords". The Institute added that this will lead to "a spike in the number of pets surrendered or abandoned a few months later."

In New South Wales, there's no term in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 that bans you from keeping a pet in a rental or requires you to seek consent from your landlord before keeping a pet. However, many landlords will add a clause in the residential tenancy agreement that restricts pets, and there is no law preventing them from doing so.

In South Australia, granting approval for pets is at the discretion of property owners.