New laws strip owners of rights while tenants rake in benefits

Those "no pet" clauses could be a thing of the past.

A “no pets” clause in a tenancy agreement is pretty standard for Australian investment properties, and the solution is pretty standard as well: if you have a pet, don’t apply for a property with a no pets clause. 

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of taking their time to find the perfect rental property; circumstances differ and sometimes the only option is to move into the next available place in your price range. In fact, the RSPCA revealed in an ABC News article that “over the past two years, 15 per cent of the dogs and cats turned in to them were surrendered because the owners were moving and could not take their pets”. 

It’s a sad state of affairs, but one renters have come to terms with; many opt for smaller animals such as guinea pigs, or forego pet ownership altogether until they can scrape together enough money for a house deposit. 

Now, reformed tenancy laws in the state of Victoria could throw the door wide open on this subject. 

Under the new legislation, which is expected to be in place by 2018, landlords can still veto pets in their property, but tenants will be able to appeal the decision at VCAT (the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal). 

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Local council regulations and body corporate requirements are an exception to the opportunity to appeal. Landlords can also avoid having their decision overturned by proving that it would cost too much to replace or repair heritage aspects of their house. 

Landlords can also no longer request more than a month’s rent in bond for properties marketed at less than $760 per week. In addition, bond will be automatically released to the tenant after they vacate the property unless the landlord raises a dispute within two weeks. 

Landlords and real estate agents will be prohibited from soliciting higher-than-advertised rent payments, and rent may only be increased once per year in an attempt to promote longer-term rentals.

However, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria believes that, rather than making things better for the tenant, these new rules could backfire catastrophically.

If landlords risk having to accept the presence of any pet, no matter how big or how untrained, the costs of maintaining a property could be pushed even higher. This would, in turn, force landlords to raise weekly rental figures to cover their financial outlay, decreasing affordability for already cash-strapped renters. 

What do you think of the new regulations? Do you think they should be allowed?