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Renting Basics: What to do if you have a pet

Renting Basics: What to do if you have a pet

By Sarah Lefebvre on May 18 2017

Home ownership is a commonly-held aspiration among Australians. However, it's not one shared by everybody. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) asserts that nearly a third of us rent, which increases to just under half among those with a lower income.

Thus far in our renting basics series, we have covered subjects like how your credit history can affect your ability to rent and what to put in your application, among other things. But what about your furry (most of the time) flatmates?

In 2016 it was estimated that there were more than 24 million pets in Australia. At 62%, Australia continues to have one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world with around 5.7 million of Australia’s 9.2 million households home to a pet. Believe it or not, that gets us a Guinness World Record for the highest rate of pet ownership in the world!

Thus, it's clear to see, millions of us rent, and millions of us own pets. Unfortunately, the two don't always go together. In light of this, how can you secure a rental with Spot and/or Whiskers in tow?

Talk to a real estate agent

If you've been browsing through properties to rent, you've probably noticed that it's fairly common to see the words "no pets". In fact, the Animal Welfare League Australia states that of all rental listings, less than 10 per cent are advertised as pet friendly.

This can make your search much harder, not to mention being exceptionally demoralising! With access to an intricate network of properties, a real estate agent will be able to effectively and efficiently narrow your search down to homes that match your needs, saving you a lot of time and heartache.

Create a resume for your pet

When it comes to applying for your rental property, you should provide a resume for your pet, too. While it's unlikely they'll be able to sign the dotted line, the NSW RSPCA recommends including:
  • Their age and microchip information
  • Vaccination history
  • Flea treatment dates
  • Desexing certificate
  • Any obedience certificates they may have earned
The same is true for references. If you can get your previous landlord or property manager to sign a statement that describes your pets as great tenants who didn't stay up late, making lots of noise and damaging property, you are likely to have a much better chance of obtaining the property you're applying for.

If you are unable to obtain a reference, for whatever reason, then consider enquiring with your vet or anyone who can authoritatively speak in your pet's favour.

Suggest a pet bond

If the property manager is still unsure about your pet's application, the ACAC suggests offering a pet bond or increasing your personal bond. Essentially, this would involve you laying down a payment to ensure that in the event of Spot and/or Whiskers damaging anything in the home, the landlord would be covered. Provided they're on their best behaviour, you'll get your money back the next time you move.

Alternatively, to sweeten the deal you could propose paying slightly more rent to allow you to have your all-important roomie.

Be honest

Perhaps the most important part of applying for a rental property is to be honest. Lying about not having pets may get you in the door, but it's very likely the landlord will eventually find out.

According to the Residential Tenancies Authority, you can only keep a pet if the tenancy agreement states that this is allowed. Breaking these rules can provide grounds for eviction, which certainly would not be ideal for you, Spot or Whiskers!

Be upfront, enthusiastic and don't be afraid to apply for numerous rental properties. Who knows, you may just meet a landlord that has a secret love for cats and dogs, helping to seal the deal on the home you're after.

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