Real estate agents worry new pet reforms will strip landlords of rights

Local real estate agents fear proposed changes to legislation around pets in rental properties will strip landlords of their rights.  

Slated state government reforms will allow tenants to keep a pet given the written consent of a landlord, with landlords unable to unreasonably deny the request. 

Landlords cannot refuse consent for assistance dogs. 

Ray White Ballarat director Phillip Lee said landlords take risks when they buy a property, and shouldn’t be forced to accept pets. 

“Their rights as to what they do with their property under this legislation are being totally taken away in relation to pets,” Mr Lee said. 

“I don’t have a problem with pets, because I’ve got one, but I’ve seen first hand the damage they can do and it should be the landlord’s choice.

“We’ve seen dogs scratch and chew back doors and flywire, dog hair throughout the carpet, and had a case recently of carpet in one room being replaced because of animal urine.

“Even though we might have a clause in the contract that says the dog must stay outside, people tend to let them in,” he said. 

Ditchy's view

Ditchy's view

The reforms will also restrict bonds of more than one month’s rent, where rent is less than double the median weekly rent. 

Mr Lee said that real estate agents sometimes ask for a higher bond to cover potential animal damage, but the proposed legislation will restrict that practice. 

“Currently if the rent is over $350 a week, we were able to get a higher bond, which covers any potential pet damage,” Mr Lee said. 

“Often these cases go to VCAT and landlords have to fight to get damage fixed.”

Changes to the Rental Tenancies Act 1997 for the reforms are under way.