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How to rent with a pet

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By John McGrath
 
A few weeks ago I discussed the difficulty pet owners face in finding pet friendly accommodation to buy or rent. The rise in apartment living, coupled with outdated strata rules disallowing pets, means we have a significant lack of pet friendly properties in our market at a time when pet ownership and renting across the country is increasing.
 
This week I’ve got some great tips to share from McGrath’s Head of Property Management, Michael Conolly, on how tenants with pets can improve their chances of securing the rental home they want.  
 
According to Michael, pet references are the key to success.
 
“References from past landlords and agents, neighbours and even dog walkers – the more references the better,” Michael says.
 
“Even a reference from your pet groomer is helpful because after property damage, the shedding of hair and smells are the next biggest fears of landlords when it comes to tenants with pets.”
 
Michael also recommends a Pet CV with photos of your pet and the following essential information:

  1. Breed
  2. Age
  3. Size
  4. Vaccinations
  5. Whether the pet has a microchip
  6. Whether the pet has been de-sexed
  7. Whether the pet has had any professional behavioural training

 
An additional strategy for pet owners is to offer to pay a bit more in rent.
 
“Landlords of pet friendly apartments can’t charge a higher rent because the block is pet friendly, however tenants can volunteer to pay more, which can be a good strategy.”
 
In NSW, Michael says changes to strata laws that make it easier for buildings to adopt pet friendly policies – either by allowing pets freely or considering pets on application, has had little effect to date, with most buildings choosing to maintain a hard line on pet ownership.
 
“The changes to strata laws in November are making it a little easier in some areas of Sydney. We’ve seen some apartment buildings in the inner city, inner west and eastern suburbs adopt pet friendly policies but overall, the effect has been minimal. The take-up is still slow.
 
“Houses are naturally the best option for tenants with pets, especially those with enclosed yards. Landlords allowing pets are slowly on the rise but not at the rate pet owners would like.
 
“Pet ownership in Australia is increasing. You only have to visit inner city parks and coffee shops to see this. Statistics show there are 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia and 3.9 million pet cats* so the reality is that owners, agents and body corporates have to become more accepting of pets in rental properties.”
 
So, what’s in it for the landlord?
 
As mentioned earlier, a tenant with a pet may offer to pay more in weekly rent but we don’t recommend approving a tenant simply because of this. They have to have great pet references and a good track record as tenants themselves.
 
The other benefits are reduced vacancy periods and potentially better maintenance of the property than tenants without pets, as Michael explains.
 
“People with pets stay in rental properties longer so landlords get longevity of tenancy.
 
“Ironically, tenants with pets can also be more particular about maintaining a property.
 
“Both of these benefits are a function of how hard it is to find owners that will allow pets, so paradoxically tenants with pets are often perfect tenants because they don’t want to be out looking again in a restricted marketplace.”
 
In my opinion, all apartment buildings should be pet friendly, with appropriate rules. The property market needs to evolve in line with the lifestyle changes of the population. If apartment living and pet ownership are both on the rise, then the marketplace needs to adjust.
 
Given the increasing demand, I think making your property pet friendly will ultimately make it more valuable too.

*Pet Ownership in Australia 2016, Animal Medicines Australia

Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2017


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