Pets in a Rental Property

While changes to legislation over the past few years have clarified many of the grey areas in property management, the issue of pets is still not well regulated in comparison.

For both tenants and landlords, getting a clear agreement in place up-front is good idea to avoid any arguments down the track.

From a tenant’s perspective, having a pet can be seen as a major drawback by landlords during the application process, especially if there are other applicants who don’t have pets. The best way around this is to get pet references from previous landlords, or if you were living in your own home, ask the selling agent or another independent party. References could include details about how long the pet was in the property, the pet’s temperament, and that it didn’t cause any damage or noise disturbance for neighbours.

Landlords do need to be cautious when a tenant requests approval for a pet as the potential for complications is high. References for pets can be checked in the same way as other references and if approval is granted, the lease should clearly state the animals name, age and breed. You don’t want Daisy the Poodle who was listed as “one dog” on the lease to turn into Wally the Wolfhound somewhere during the term of the lease, and have no recourse against the tenant.

The lease should also specify exactly what the tenant needs to do at the conclusion of the tenancy. The agreement could include dry cleaning of any carpets (not of any damage, including lawns and gardens.

It’s not a good plan for a tenant to have a pet in a rental property without approval, if the animal is discovered; it will most likely result in a notice to remedy breach being issued. If the pet is not removed or an agreement reached, both parties will end up in the tribunal, where the decision as to what will happen will be in the hands of the presiding member.

As with all aspects of property management, it’s far better to have an agreement in place from the beginning which clearly sets out each party’s rights and responsibilities.

Gerri Keays Property Management Executive