How to Ask Your Landlord for a Pet
This article is written Pet Circle pet product and lifestyle guru, and last updated by our veterinarian Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc (Hons).
Finding a rental property that warmly welcomes your furry friend can often feel like a daunting task. However, as the landscape of property rentals evolves, so does the openness of landlords to the idea of tenants with pets. Many landlords are willing to consider having pets on their premises, provided the right assurances are in place.
In this guide, we'll explore effective strategies and steps on how to approach your landlord and make a compelling case for bringing a pet into your rental home. From crafting a persuasive letter to addressing concerns over property damage, we'll cover all aspects to help you navigate this process with confidence. If the idea of having a pet companion in your rented abode brings you joy, read on to discover how to make a convincing appeal to your landlord for a pet-friendly living arrangement.
Skip to a section:
1. Know Your Rights
2. Create Pet Resume
3. Get References
4. Recognise the Landlords Concerns
5. Be Prepared to Negotiate
6. Offer to Pay Extra Rent
Pets Other than Dogs and Cats
Empty the Shelters
This is a bit of a longer read, but totally worth it to put some frustrations at ease.
First off, know that tenant laws differ from state to state: many people will be aware that in 2017, Victoria took a big step forward by changing the rights of renters across the state. Now, real estate agents and their landlords can no longer include a no pets clause in rental agreements, and while renters will still have to ask for consent, landlords can only refuse in certain circumstances. In Western Australia, landlords may legally ask for a pet bond in order to accept a pet. In most states, you'll need to gain written permission to get around the "no pets" clause that's more than likely been written in to your rental agreement.
We've summarised the rental laws by state here:
VIC/ ACT/ NT/ QLD: Renters are permitted to keep pets at rental properties, with the written consent of the landlord. Landlords need to have a good reason to refuse the renter's request (for instance, the property is unsuitable for the pet, or the pet is dangerous to the public).
NSW: Most standard lease agreements have a term stating that pets are not allowed on the premises. Most leases require tenants to obtain permission from the landlord before introducing a pet onto the property mid-lease.
WA: Renters must ask landlords for permission to keep pets, who do not have to provide a reason for refusing the request. A pet bond can be charged on top of the standard bond.
SA: Allowing tenants to keep pets is at the discretion of property owners, who do not need a good reason to refuse their decision.
TAS: Allowing tenants to keep pets is at the discretion of property owners, who do not need a good reason to refuse their decision. Approval for the pet must be noted in the lease.
It's worth noting though, that the decision may not come down to your real estate agent or even landlord: it might come down to the strata (also known as strata corporations, corporations, body corporates and strata companies) that owns your apartment complex. If they have implemented a strict "no pets" policy, then things might get complicated. However, generally speaking, no strata can deny you of pet ownership without a good cause (and any of their by-laws that work around this must be presented to you 7 days before you move in to a new property). If you have an assistance animal, you outright cannot be refused that animal.
With this knowledge in hand, let's see how you can convince a particularly stubborn real estate agent, landlord or strata into letting you own that cat...
Act as though you're trying to get your pet a high-paying job: tell your landlord what type of animal you have, along with their breed, temperament, age, and any training they've received. Provide documents if you can, and definitely let the landlord know about that time your dog saved little Timmy who fell down the well. If you don't yet own an animal but are excited to get one, also give yourself some credit: let the landlord know you've always paid rent on time, always kept the property clean, and are a responsible adult that won't let your cat scratch up the carpet. That's what cat posts are for.
Again, pretend that your pet is going for a job: get a letter from your veterinarian or even past landlord stating that your pet was well-behaved. If you have any of your dog's obedience class certificates, include those as well.
If you can, offer references from previous landlords that vouch for your well-behaved pet. This demonstrate a history of responsible pet ownership.
One of our team members, Jess, included this letter to her landlord:
"...we own a pet, a Chihuahua. Our dog currently lives with our parents and we would love to be able to have him come and live with us if possible. He is a very sweet natured dog, is fully toilet trained and barks minimally. However, we understand that you may not wish to have pets occupying the residence and our dog is able to remain with our parents if this is so."
As Jess did, it's important to address your landlord's concerns regarding property damage or disturbance. Actively reassure your landlord that you will take full responsibility for any damages, and have it written in to your rental agreement. You can offer to have the carpets professionally cleaned regularly, or promise to clip your pet's nails to prevent scratching on floorboards. You can even offer to have your entire apartment professionally cleaned and any pests (e.g. fleas) eradicated once you vacate the property.
If you have been renting in your current residence for a while and are looking to invite a new furry critter into your life, you may still have to negotiate some terms with your landlord. For example, you may offer to have the carpets cleaned when you end the lease, and your landlord may counter with a request to have the carpets cleaned once a month. Finding a happy medium that works for everyone is the ultimate goal.
This one could be tricky, as many renters are already strapped for cash come rent due. Legally, a landlord cannot ask for a pet bond (unless in WA), but if you're willing to pay it may be a good option. If your landlord agrees, make sure to get the updated payment written up in a new rental agreement, to avoid any nasty surprises.
If you're looking to own a family of rats, mice, a ferret, a rabbit or bird, you may find that the definition of "no pets" means "no cats or dogs" - so you may very well be allowed to get them, with minimal fuss. Some landlords and body corporates do not count caged animals in their policy, or animals weighing less than 5 kilograms for example. However, we strongly urge you to seek permission regardless, as you can face fines and/or eviction if you smuggle in a budgie or two...
All in all, approaching your landlord to ask about a pet is all about communication, a willingness to accept responsibility, and trust. If you can prove that you're a responsible owner with a history of excellent apartment upkeep and rental payments, you're likely well on your way to being able to bring an animal companion in to your everyday life.
Talk to neighbours if seeking approval from a strata committee.
When seeking approval from a strata committee to bring a pet into a rental property, you should approach your neighbors with consideration and openness. If you don't know your neighbours already, begin by initiating friendly conversations with them to establish a positive rapport. Share your intention of getting a pet and express your awareness of the strata committee's policies.
Be prepared to address any concerns they may have, such as noise or potential disruptions. Talking about your history of responsible pet ownership, willingness to communicate, and genuine concern for your neighbours' wellbeing will likely enhance your chances of gaining their support and, ultimately, approval from the strata committee.
Don't hide your pet; be transparent from the beginning
Transparency is key when it comes to introducing a pet into a rental, and it's essential to resist the temptation of sneaking them in without having to undergo a difficult conversation. Honesty is the best policy, and being upfront with your landlord from the get-go fosters trust and open communication.
Emphasise responsible ownership and offer reassurances
When talking with your landlord, it's essential to focus on your commitment to responsible pet ownership. Clearly communicate your understanding of any potential concerns, addressing issues like noise, cleanliness, and potential damages. Assure your landlord that you are well-prepared to mitigate any disruptions, offering to take extra precautions such as additional pet deposits or pet insurance.
One of the top reasons that Australian pet shelters and rescues, like Pet Rescue, are so over-populated is due to people being unable to take their pets with them when they move into a non pet-friendly property. When this happens, pets are surrendered or abandoned completely.
If tenants were free to take in animals, the number of pets in shelters would likely fall dramatically. At Pet Circle, we advocate adoption of a pet whenever possible, and assist over 50 shelters around the country with donation of food, bedding and more. Please click the button below to view our rescues.
All in all, navigating the path of renting with pets can be a rewarding experience with the right approach and mindset. It's crucial to be open to negotiation and compromise with your landlord, viewing the process as a collaborative effort rather than a one-sided request. Timing is everything, so choose an appropriate moment to discuss the matter, steering clear of peak busy hours when your landlord may be preoccupied. Approach the conversation with respect, acknowledging any potential concerns upfront. Remember, a well-timed, respectful conversation is the key to turning a potential pet hurdle into a harmonious and pet-friendly living arrangement.