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Pets in rental laws Victoria

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The regulations, which came into effect in March last year, put the onus back on landlords, who now must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and provide a “good reason” to stop a tenant from having a pet.RELATED: Footballers who played the property game in 2021Melbourne’s top celeb property deals of 2021Victoria’s biggest property deals of 2021COVID-19 hit renters particularly hard, and so Flatmates.com.au asked how the community was impacted by surveying over 9,000 of their users. Flatmates community manager Claudia Conley explores the findings.The move was welcomed by industry bodies and renters alike, many of whom campaigned for animals to be included in conversations about housing for years.RSPCA Victoria chief Dr Liz Walker said there had been a noticeable decrease in the number of animals surrendered to shelters since the new rules came into play.According to the organisation’s records, 13.2 per cent of animals given up to the RSPCA in 2019 were due to their owners moving property.That figure dropped to 10.7 per cent in 2020 and further to 9.5 per cent in 2021.“This appears to be a promising trend and whilst we have no formal data, it is suggestive that the legislative changes have made a positive impact in helping people to stay with their pets,” Dr Walker said.She added that owning a pet was “ part of the Australian way of life” and could have a positive impact on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.“We are now thrilled to see that landlords may not unreasonably refuse tenants with pets, ultimately helping to support people to create better lives for their pets, resulting in positive animal welfare outcomes and happier communities,” she said.Peak advocacy group Tenants Victoria said while the move was a positive step, there were still some teething issues.The agency’s expert lawyer Katie Valenta said the new rules had enabled renters to “join the ranks of pet owners for the first time”.But in turn, many invalid and “often elaborate pet agreements” had also surfaced, she said.“Renters often don’t understand that signing a separate pet agreement, or otherwise obtaining the rental provider’s consent, is not the same as submitting the legally required Pet Request Form, so they will often, unknowingly, have a pet without the required formal consent you need to have,” Ms Valenta said.The lawyer said she had heard of cases where an agreement stipulated conditions such as a property needing to be “flea bombed” when the tenancy finished.Others had been asked to fork out money for a ‘pet bond’ or incorrectly filled out one form for multiple pets, instead of the government-required two forms.“Such onerous terms are often likely to be invalid under the law,” she said.Ms Valenta emphasised that since the change in rules, more power had been given to tenants seeking a companion.“If the rental provider doesn’t want you to have the pet in your rented home, they will have to apply to VCAT to prevent you,” she said. “The good news is that since the new pet laws were introduced last year, a number of hearings at the tribunal have been decided in favour of renters who want to keep pets.”According to VCAT records a total of 539 applications relating to the pets legislation have been received since March 1, 2020.Of those, 277 were finalised — either via a hearing, withdrawal or stike-out. A further 262 matters are pending or awaiting a hearing.The rules-Tenants need written permission from their landlords before moving a pet into their homes-Landlords cannot unreasonably refuse consent to a renter wishing to keep a pet-Landlords who want to refuse have 14 days to apply for a VCAT order-VCAT may consider whether local council rules prohibit certain animals, whether the property is suitable for the type of pet being sought, and the suitability of the pet, including whether it poses a threat to neighbours-A pet is considered “any animal except an assistance dog”, which can include “poultry and domesticated animals found on rural properties”-Landlords cannot place demands on the keeping of an approved animal, such as requiring a dog be kept outside-Tenants are accountable for any pet-related damage that goes beyond fair wear and tear-Tenants can’t be asked to pay a specific pet bond, but landlords can make claims on (and if needed, in excess of) their standard bond to cover damageSource: Consumer Affairs VictoriaMORE: Inside $8.4m home of Youtube’s highest paid womanThe most incredible cover-star homes of 2021Plan to move Melbourne Star to surprise new homeSign up to the Herald Sun Weekly Real Estate Update. Click here to get the latest Victorian property market news delivered direct to your inboxalanah.frost@news.com.au



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