Enjoying all the love that a rescue dog has to offer shouldn’t be an experience that’s only available to homeowners. And unsurprisingly, there are more Aussie pet owners renting now than ever before. As a result, the rights for renters have been amended in virtually all Australian states to accommodate those that want to adopt their own furry friends, scaly critters, and everything in between – so long as you have the right licences.
But keeping pets in rental properties is naturally a bit different to keeping pets in a house that you own outright. For starters, any damage caused by your pets aren’t impacting your investment – they’re impacting somebody else’s. So pet owners need to be mindful of how their animals are interacting with the property, and in some cases even think critically about whether they have the best environment for their pets.
Here are just a few other considerations that you should make when managing pet ownership alongside the responsibilities that accompany lease agreements.
1. Financial considerations in the event of damage
You need more than just your bond to cover damage caused by pets. For example, renters insurance policies can either include or come with add-on options for accidental damage cover, which can help protect your belongings and valuables in the event of damage.
As for damage to the property, your bond can cover any minor scuffs, scratches or marks caused by pets. Any damage that may require additional financial cover can be sorted with your property manager. Keep in mind too that just as you may opt to take out renters insurance, your landlord also has the option to secure landlord insurance. Any responsible landlord would have this policy in place for themselves as well. Whilst most landlord insurance policies do include cover against tenant damage, you can maintain a glowing rental history and reduce your risks of being hit with a breach of duty notice by keeping damage to the property at an absolute minimum wherever possible.
2. Keeping your rental property clean and fur-free
Of course it goes without saying that you’d want to leave your rental property just as it was when you moved in. In fact, this stipulation in your lease agreement is most likely to be one that sticks in your mind all throughout your tenancy period. So the question that virtually all renting pet owners would have is how exactly do you keep damage to a minimum?
It’s all about building healthy habits and establishing routines for both your pets and your household. This means cleaning regularly and making sure that you feed and play with your pets at regular intervals throughout the day.
Let’s start with cleaning first. You’re less likely to experience accidental damage to your rental property if there’s less clutter for your cats to knock off tables. So make sure that everything has its own place and that place is well away from the reach of curious paws and wagging tails.
Alongside this, pet owners can naturally benefit from investing in pet grooming supplies and pet vacuum cleaners to combat the accumulation of fur and dust that may be generated by keeping pets in your rental property. Regular sweeping can also be beneficial for cat owners who may mind bits of cat litter being carried around their rental on their pets’ paws.
And finally, there’s the evergreen concern of bedding, rugs, and carpets. If your rental property does have carpeted areas, consider maintaining these areas as ‘pet-free’ zones and setting up hardwood or tiled areas as ‘pet-friendly’ zones. That way, you can help protect the carpets in your properties alongside maximising your chances of getting your full bond back at the end of your lease agreement.
3. Barking dogs and neighbour complaints
Another concern that most pet owners are likely to have is simply making sure that their animals are being kept stimulated enough during the day to keep any destructive or anxious behaviour at bay. For example, dogs typically bark for two key reasons: they’re bored or they’re feeling protective. If your dog is territorial and isn’t very confident with their surroundings, barking can be their way of protecting you and your property from passersby. Taking your dog out for regular walks around the neighbourhood and allowing your dog to interact with your neighbours can reduce the frequency of barking.
If the issue continues and you’re concerned about receiving noise complaints, consider securing training sessions with a local dog trainer that’s well-versed on the issue. You may also decide to communicate with your neighbours and your property manager to reassure them that steps are being taken to rectify the problem. Just be sure to maintain a considerate approach and proactive communications.
4. Space considerations for multiple pets
This next tip is specifically for pet owners who are keeping multiple pets in a rental property. All fur babies do deserve to have a little company of their own, but pet owners do need to take into consideration the importance of introducing new pets to one another. Sometimes first meetings with existing and newly adopted pets don’t go as smoothly as planned, which can lead to unexpected tousles and perhaps even trips to the vet.
But if there are lasting issues even following the first week or month of introducing a new pet to your household, then there’s a chance that your rental property may not have adequate space to provide a harmonious and stress-free environment for these pets. If that’s the case, then you sadly may need to consider rehoming your new pet.
This is why shelters provide support to new adoptees in the weeks following their adoption. If you feel that your new pet is not a good fit for your household due to unforeseen reasons, then think critically about whether re-adoption is the right solution not just for you and your rental property, but also for the animal in question.
5. Staying on top of council pet registration
Speaking of keeping multiple pets, it can be all too easy for renters to let little things like vaccination appointments or pet registration renewal dates fall to the wayside when you’re renting. After all, moving from property to property or from council district to council district can result in mail getting lost or even great confusion when it comes to keeping track of which cities and addresses your animals are registered at.
But renewing your pet registration is crucial to ensuring that your pets can be found in the event that they run away, are stolen, or are picked up by rangers. So make a habit of amending your pet’s registration details as soon as you take on a new lease agreement, and amending them again once that agreement comes to an end.
6. Keep your property manager and landlord informed
Finally, we said it once and we’ll say it again: any property damage caused by your pets is impacting your landlord’s investment, not yours. Tenants have a responsibility to ensure that their property managers and landlords are kept in the loop with any updates on the pets or animals that are being kept at that property. This includes any pets that are adopted during your tenancy period and any pets that you may be taking care of for a long period of time.
Keeping your property manager and landlord informed can be as easy as sending them a courtesy email in the event that you do adopt a pet that wasn’t included in your rental application, or that you introduce a new animal into the property for a long-term stay (i.e. if their owners have moved overseas or if you’re fostering with a local shelter).
If there will be new pets present at an upcoming scheduled property inspection, we recommend emailing your property manager to let them know ahead of time. They will undoubtedly appreciate the courtesy and will see your transparent communications as a sign of trust and mutual respect.
So long as you keep these six tips in mind, there’s no reason why you should experience any pushback or negative feedback from your property manager, landlord, or your neighbours when keeping pets at your rental property. Just remember to practice empathy, maintain proactive communications, and to uphold all of your own responsibilities as a guardian and caretaker of your furry, scaly, or feathery friends.