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Should you allow Pets into your Investment Property?

By Sherryn Dickson

This is a question that comes up a lot. Some landlords are quite clear from the start and advise us that they will not consider applications that have pets, whereas others are more open to the idea.

One of our clients had a bad experience many years ago (not with us managing her property), where the tenant had a dog at the property that completely ruined the house and garden. Due to this terrible experience she will no longer consider any applications that have pets. Whilst I can understand the reasoning for this – due to her terrible experience – I personally believe that it makes good sense to consider ALL applications on their merits and not exclude those with pets, or tarnish everyone with the same brush so to speak.

My reasoning for this is as follows:

  • About 50% of the population have pets of some sort. Excluding applicants with pets means that you halve the number of people that could rent your property – this could well mean you miss a great applicant or your property takes twice as long to let out.
  • In my experience someone that makes a great tenant will be a great tenant whether they have a pet or not. Someone that makes an average tenant will be average regardless – its not the pet that’s the issue – it’s the person/s.
  • Also, I would rather allow a potential tenant to note on their application any pets they have so we can be fully aware of animals rather than advertising “no pets” on the property advert.

You must also consider these points:

  • Is the pet the right size for a property? A small fluffy dog might be fine in a unit, however a large dog is likely to get bored and therefore be destructive.
  • Ensure you have specific clauses in your lease, “pet clauses” to protect yourself in the event of any issues – however, note that you cannot contract outside of the law. Your property manager should be able to guide you here.
  • Make sure if in a body corporate situation that you are allowed to in fact have pets at the complex.
  • Under the Residential Tenancies Act you cannot evict someone for having a pet – even if they don’t have permission for it. A landlord can only serve a tenant with a breach notice if the animal is damaging the property. Therefore, you’d much rather be open and aware of pets than having the tenant thinking they should be hiding the existence of a pet.
  • Any damage caused by a pet does need to be fixed by the tenant.
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