Can Tenants Have Pets without Approval Now?


Can Tenants Have Pets without Approval Now?

Fast Facts:

Tenant still must request approval in writing to have a pet at their rental 

Owner has 14 days to respond

Owner can only refuse under prescribed grounds

Some reasonable conditions can be added to the lease if pet is approved

Pet damage is excluded from the definition of “fair wear and tear” and tenants must pay for damages

Body corporate by-laws and council by laws still apply

Even if the current tenancy agreement says pets are not allowed – these laws overrule from October.



Pets in rental properties has long been a contentious issue where we’ve seen it all – from great tenants where you wouldn’t even know the pets were on site to tenancies going terribly wrong and the existence of the pet only adding to the expensive clean up bill and of course – the majority that sit in the middle.

The Residential Tenancy Authority is providing a pet application form which tenants will be required to use. We hope it includes all relevant information and insists on photos being provided.

Within 14 days a response must be provided to the tenant outlining the response – if no – reasons must be provided and if yes, any reasonable conditions that will be added to the lease agreement.


Prescribed reasons to refuse the pet in a rental

Keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of pets being kept at the premises.

The property is unsuitable to keep the requested pet because of a lack of appropriate fencing, open space or another thing necessary to humanely accommodate the pet.

Keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the property or inclusions that could not practically be repaired for a cost that is less than the amount of the rental bond for the property.

Keeping the pet on the property would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person.

Keeping the pet on the property would be contrary to other legalisation, regulations, or rules, including Local Government by-laws and body corporate by-laws.

The tenant has not agreed to the reasonable conditions proposed by you for approval to keep the pet.

The animal stated in the request is not a pet.


New Conditions that the Act has prescribed to be reasonable conditions (but does not limit us to them)

If the pet is not a type ordinarily kept inside – a condition requiring the pet to be kept outside

If the pet is capable of carrying parasites that could infest the property – a condition requiring the property to be professionally fumigated at the end of the tenancy.

If the pet is allowed inside the property – a condition requiring carpets in the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.

New Definition of Pet

There is a new definition of a pet and separating that from the definition of a working dog. A pet is a domesticated animal or an animal that is dependent on a person for the provision of food or shelter.

A pet does not include a working dog or animal prescribed by regulation to not be a pet. A working dog can be kept at the premises without your approval and is defined as:

An assistance dog, guide dog or working dog, a corrective services dog or a police dog – all as per their relevant Act.

Reading through – it is easy to think – the refusal ground of, it is likely that the damage caused would exceed the bond so I can refuse pets on that.  After all, urine in the carpet will seep into the underlay and floor surface below so that is a very expensive treatment of the subfloor and replacement of carpets – Bond used easily in most cases.   

That is true – but this damage will be subject to the same guidelines as carpet replacement is now – how much area affected and how old were the carpets to start with. Depreciation is applied and aged carpets will not warrant the same claim amount on the tenants and it may not be the whole bond.

Professional cleaning of the carpet is usually not enough as they clean the carpet – not deep into the underlay and floor below. It can mask the smell for a short time so you think the room is clean but then it seeps back up.

Let’s just make the tenants keep the dogs and cats outside. Unfortunately, the Council by-laws state a cat should be kept indoors at all times or in a cat enclosure outside so we can’t make a special condition that requires the cat to be outside unless we specify the enclosure. Practically – we know that cat will be inside.

Body corporate by-laws say no pets – easy refusal ground. We are hearing that residents are taking their cases to the Body Corporate Commissioner to appeal “no pet by-laws” so we will be watching that space. If by-laws say pets upon approval of body-corporate we will have to be mindful of our timeframes of 14 days to get the approval as the Body Corporate Act does not line up with our tenancy laws.

I am not trying to be difficult in outlining the above – but pointing out that refusing the pets will be difficult. What it will take is a few test cases in the Qld Civil Administration Tribunal to sharpen some of the points – particularly around the payment for damages.

The tenants do have some responsibilities:

Tenant is responsible for all nuisance caused by a pet kept at the property, for example noise caused by the pet and repairing any damage caused to the property or it’s inclusions.


How will McAdam and Turnbull Realty deal with this?

Educating the tenants will be an important focus of our pet strategy. When you think damage to a property your mind goes immediately to dogs digging huge holes and worst-case scenarios, but it is often more likely to be a build-up of ongoing damages.

Dogs running pads around the perimeter of the fence killing the grass and scratching the screen doors mesh and leaving oily marks on the floor – that all adds up.

Routine inspections will require a sharp focus on any signs of damage and having tenants attend to damage at that time.

Summary – Property Management in Toowoomba will be changing to implement and work with these laws going forward. Experienced property managers will be in demand as a layer of common sense and practical solutions will be required.

Thankfully, that is always how we have operated at McAdam and Turnbull Realty and Toowoomba Landlords can rely on us.

We do strongly recommend a quality landlord insurance policy is in place which covers pet damage. We are aligned with EBM Insurance and can assist with getting you a quote

EBM RentCover | Landlord Insurance | Protecting Rental Properties

To discuss pets in rentals or any other property management questions – please feel free to contact us for a chat 46392222 or [email protected]  



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