Renters who want to have a pet in the property must ask their rental provider (landlord) for permission. Rental providers must have a good reason to refuse the renter’s request. Rental providers can apply to VCAT for an order to refuse permission.
All renters, including those with pets, have a responsibility to keep their rental property clean, avoid damage, and not be a nuisance to others. The rental provider has rights if a pet causes damage or other problems.
A pet means any animal except an assistance dog, which is a dog trained to help a person with a disability. Assistance dogs do not count as pets, and people with assistance dogs cannot be discriminated against.
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Renters who want to keep a pet should:
- complete a Pet request form. The renter must complete a separate form for each pet they want to keep.
- give the form or forms to their rental provider
- keep a copy for their own records.
The rental provider has 14 days (starting the day after they receive the form) to make a decision.
- If they agree to the renter having the pet, they should give consent in writing, using the address the renter gave on the pet request form.
- If they don’t agree, they should apply to VCAT and tell the renter they have done so within the 14 days. The renter can’t keep a pet while VCAT is making a decision.
- If the rental provider does not respond at all within the 14 days the renter can keep the pet.
It is a good idea for renters to give the rental provider information that will help them decide whether the pet is suitable to be kept at the property. This could include:
- information about the pet’s age, temperament, training or other characteristics
- references from a vet, trainer, previous rental provider or neighbour or both
- why the property is suitable for keeping the pet.
Renters should also check that the pet complies with local council laws and other laws about pet ownership. These laws apply whether or not the rental provider has given consent. Agriculture Victoria has information about domestic animal laws.
There are a range of other steps renters should follow when applying for a new property. You can view a full list on our Applying for a property page.
Negotiating conditions for keeping a pet
The rental provider can try to negotiate conditions for keeping a pet on the property. For example, they might say the pet is not allowed inside. If the renter does not agree to the conditions and the rental provider wants to exclude the pet, they must apply to VCAT.
Any agreed conditions should be put in writing.
If the rental provider applies to VCAT to have a pet request refused, VCAT can order that either:
- the rental provider’s refusal is reasonable and/or the pet is excluded from the property
- the renter can keep the pet on the rental property.
When making its decision, VCAT may consider:
- the type of pet the renter wants to keep
- the type of property the renter is renting
- appliances, fixtures and fittings in the property
- other relevant laws (for example, if the pet is prohibited by a local council law)
- anything else VCAT considers relevant.
If VCAT makes an order excluding the pet from the property, the renter has 14 days to comply with the order. If the renter has not complied with the order after that, the rental provider can give them a notice to vacate, with a minimum of 28 days’ notice.
Pets causing damage or other problems
Renters have legal duties and responsibilities including:
- taking care to avoid damaging the property
- keeping the property reasonably clean
- not causing a nuisance or interfering with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours.
If the renter does not meet their duties, the rental provider can give them a breach of duty notice. This notice tells the renter to fix the breach or pay for any damage, and states that the renter must not breach the same duty again. This could apply to damage caused by a pet.
If the renter does not comply with this notice, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.
When making a decision about damage caused by a pet, VCAT will consider:
- fair wear and tear
- the age and condition of the damaged item(s).
Read more about what to do when a renter or rental provider breaks the rules.
Keeping a pet without consent
If a rental provider reasonably believes a renter is keeping a pet without their consent, they can apply to VCAT for an order to exclude the pet from the property.
Rental providers and owners cannot ask for an additional bond as a ‘pet bond’.
Pets in apartments and units
If the rented property is an apartment or unit, there is likely to be an owners corporation that manages common areas such as gardens, driveways and foyers. An owners corporation may have its own rules about pets in these common areas, which the renter must follow.
Rental providers or owners should give the renter a copy of the owners corporation rules when they move in.
If the owners corporation decides the pet is dangerous or is causing a nuisance, the renter may have to remove the pet.
Read more about how owners corporation rules are made and how to handle a complaint under an owners corporation.
Pets in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks
Rooming house residents can only keep a pet with the rooming house owner’s permission.
Residents of caravan parks and residential parks must follow their park rules in relation to pets. If a resident believes a rule is unreasonable, they can apply to VCAT for a hearing. VCAT may decide the rule is unfair and ask the park operator to change or remove it; or it may find the rule is reasonable and can stay in force.
Pets in specialist disability accommodation (SDA)
Residents in specialist disability accommodation (SDA) under an SDA residency agreement have the same rights and responsibilities as other renters when it comes to pets.
However, SDA residents must also get consent from any other residents.
Forms you might need
To ask a rental provider for permission to keep a pet at a rental property, use this form:
To give a renter a breach of duty notice if their pet causes damage to a rental property, use this form:
Renting law reforms
Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021.
New laws on pets and renting came into effect in 2020. Some of the major changes include:
- renters must ask their rental provider’s consent to have a new pet
- rental providers cannot unreasonably refuse consent.
Some language also changed:
- Landlords are now called rental providers
- Tenants are now called renters
- Leases are now called rental agreements.
You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about keeping pets, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997: