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New laws on pets and renting came into effect on 2 March 2020. Tenants must now request their landlord’s consent to bring a new pet into the property. Landlords must not unreasonably refuse. It does not matter when their lease started.
These laws do not apply to pets already present before 2 March 2020. Before this date, there were no laws directly covering pets in rented homes.
Note: All tenants have duties related to damage, cleanliness and nuisance, regardless of when they started keeping a pet. For more information, see If a pet causes damage or other problems on this page.
Tenant’s right to keep a pet with the landlord’s consent
If you want to keep a pet, you must give your landlord a completed Pet request form.
Your landlord can only refuse a pet request if the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) orders that it is reasonable to do so.
A pet means any animal except an assistance dog (a dog trained to help a person with a disability). For information about assistance dogs and renting, view Discrimination in renting.
Download the Pet request form (Word, 583KB)
What tenants need to do
- Complete a Pet request form for each pet.
- Give the completed form/s to your landlord.
- Keep a copy for your own records.
The landlord has 14 days (starting the day after they received the form) to apply to VCAT if they want to refuse consent for a pet. If you do not hear from them within this 14-day period, you are allowed to keep the pet.
Tips for completing a Pet request form
It’s a good idea to provide information that will help the landlord decide whether the pet is suitable to be kept on the premises. This could include:
- information about the pet’s age, temperament, training or other characteristics
- reference(s) from a vet, trainer, previous landlord and/or neighbour
- why you think the property is suitable for keeping your pet.
You should also check that the pet complies with local council laws and other laws about pet ownership. These laws will apply regardless of whether the landlord has given consent. For more information, visit the Pets section – Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions website.
What landlords need to do
To consent to a pet request, notify the tenant in writing. Use the tenant’s address for serving documents listed at 1 on the Pet request form.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, you must not unreasonably refuse consent for a tenant to keep a pet on the rented premises.
If you want to refuse consent, you must apply to VCAT within 14 days, starting the day after you receive the form. VCAT will consider the circumstances of your case and whether the pet is suitable for the property.
If you do not apply to VCAT within 14 days (starting the day after you receive the form), this will mean you have consented to the pet request.
If the landlord applies to VCAT
VCAT can order that either:
- the landlord’s refusal is reasonable and/or the pet is excluded from the property, or
- the tenant can keep the pet on the rental property.
When making its decision, VCAT may consider:
- the type of pet the tenant wants to keep
- the type of property the tenant 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 premises, the tenant has 14 days to comply with the order after it takes effect. If the tenant has not complied with the order after 14 days, the landlord can serve them with a notice to vacate, giving a minimum of 28 days’ notice.
If the landlord wants to restrict a pet to outdoors
The landlord can try to negotiate conditions for keeping a pet on the property; for example, not allowing the pet inside. If the tenant does not agree to the conditions, the landlord must apply to VCAT if they want to exclude the pet.
Any conditions the tenant and landlord agree to should be noted in writing.
If a pet causes damage or other problems
Tenants have duties under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, which include:
- taking care to avoid damaging the premises
- keeping the premises reasonably clean
- not causing a nuisance or interfering with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours.
If the tenant does not meet their duties, the landlord can give them a breach of duty notice. This notice tells the tenant to fix the breach or pay compensation for any damage, and states that the tenant must not breach the same duty again.
Download the Notice for breach of duty to tenant/s of rented premises (Word, 465KB)
If the tenant does not comply with this notice, the landlord can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.
When making a decision about damage caused by a pet, VCAT will take into account:
- fair wear and tear
- the age and condition of the damaged item(s).
For more information about Notices of breach of duty, view When a tenant or landlord breaks the rules.
If a tenant keeps a pet without consent
If a landlord reasonably believes a tenant is keeping a pet on the premises without consent, the landlord can apply to VCAT for an order to exclude the pet from the premises.
Landlords and owners cannot ask for an additional bond as a ‘pet bond’.
Pets in apartments and units
If you rent 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 you must follow.
Landlords or owners should give you a copy of the owners corporation rules when you first move in.
If the owners corporation decides your pet is dangerous or is causing a nuisance, it may require you to remove the pet.
For more information, view:
Pets in specialist disability accommodation (SDA)
If you are an SDA resident under an SDA residency agreement, you must not keep a pet without the agreement of your SDA provider and any other residents. For more information, view the SDA residency agreement information statement (Word, 62KB).
If you are an SDA resident under a residential tenancy agreement, you have the same rights and responsibilities as other tenants in relation to pets. To keep a pet, you must give your SDA provider a completed Pet request form (Word, 583KB). For more information, view What tenants need to do on this page.
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 you believe a rule is unreasonable, you can apply to VCAT for a hearing on the matter. VCAT may decide the rule is unfair and ask the park operator to amend or remove it; or it may find the rule is reasonable and can stay in force.
Case studies - pets and renting