In December we kicked off a series of emails discussing the proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act. Today we are talking about PETS. This amendment was viewed as controversial and certainly attracted a high level of debate and opinion.
We will start using the new terminology in our emails and blogs so we can all get into the swing of it. As a re-fresher: Property Owner = Rental Provider. Tenant = Renter.
Currently, if a Renter has a pet which has not been approved by the Rental Provider, there is little that can be done. When the legislation was updated in 1997, it was silent on the topic of pets. A clause can be added to the existing lease agreement, placing responsibility on the Renter to cover costs for any damage or a Breach notice can be served if the pet is affecting the cleanliness / overall condition of the property (although this is a long-shot when taken to VCAT).
Fast forward to the new legislation and the information released so far tells us, contrary to the blazing publicity, a Renter must ask permission to have a Pet. The Rental Provider has 14 days to respond. If there is no response, acceptance is assumed.
If, as the Rental Provider, you do not want to have a pet in the property you will have the option to proceed to VCAT (yes, costs will apply) for an Order to exclude a pet. VCAT will be required to consider the type of pet, the character and nature of the property, appliances and fixtures and fittings, along with any other relevant legislation which may apply. If VCAT issue an Order to exclude a pet, the Renter must comply or the Rental Provider may issue a Notice to Vacate.
This amendment will help prevent Renters from keeping ‘secret’ pets and we are optimistic this will remove the grey areas meaning we can better manage the tenancy, process and communication. We can also foresee VCAT claims being taken more seriously where it is clear pets have caused damage.
If you want to talk about any of the proposed changes or have specific questions on how these changes may impact your investment property, we are happy to discuss.