In 2016, there were officially 24.1 million pets living in Australia spread out across 5.7 million families. That was a good three years ago now, so this number has probably increased quite a bit by now.
It’s estimated that roughly 62% of Australian households have a pet. Of this, 38.5% are dog owners. 29.2% own a cat. And the remainder have birds, rodents, reptiles and fish.
With so many pets out there, many tenants are looking for pet-friendly rental properties, which can be challenging, to say the least. In some territories and states, landlords cannot legally stop tenants from keeping a pet on the premises without a valid reason. In others, the power rests solely with the property owner. Pet rent laws will determine this.
So with such a large percentage of the Australian population owning pets, can you really afford to isolate them? That’s a pretty big chunk of prospective income to say no too. If you do allow tenants to keep pets in the rental property, do you know the difference between fees, charges and pet rent?
What is a Pet Deposit?
In Australia, a pet deposit is what’s also known as a pet bond. Whether you can charge a pet bond depends on which state or territory your rental property is located in.
To give you an example, in Western Australia it’s common practice for a residential tenancy agreement to include a pet bond of up to $260. This can be used for cleaning or fumigating the property at the end of the tenancy agreement if required.
However, in the Northern Territory a landlord decides whether a tenant can keep pets at the rental property or not… but charging a bond is illegal. In fact, Western Australia is the only state where pet bonds are the norm.
What are Pet Fees?
A pet fee is a one-off payment that is non-refundable. Again, this is pretty much the same as a pet bond. In Australia, pet fees are not normal practice and would be considered a bond. This means that it’s pretty much off-limits and all states and territories except Western Australia. And even here, you could not charge both a bond and a pet fee.
What is Pet Rent?
Pet rent is very much an American phenomenon and isn’t common practice in Australia. However, it is something that could be considered if you decide to rent to pet owners.
Basically, pet rent is an additional charge that’s added on top of the regular rental price. As an example, prospective tenants who don’t own pets could rent the property at $300 a week. Those with pets would have a rent of $325 a week should you allow pets on the property.
By eliminating pet fees or deposits and charging pet rent instead, you would be able to increase monthly revenue. This helps cover any potential damage or cleaning at the end of the tenancy. Pet rent is non-refundable and not recognised in Australian states and territories.
In essence, it’s charging a higher rental price for those with pets… without actually calling it pet rent.
Why Consider Renting to Pet Owners?
Landlords and property management agents are split into two teams. There are those that think animals are filthy and shouldn’t be living inside their property. Then there are those who understand that pets are a huge part of many families’ lives. The latter actually comes with a few surprising benefits.
Pet owners are prepared to pay more
A report by Animal Medicines Australia discovered that 31% of tenants who own pets would be prepared to pay between 7% and 14% more for a rental property. This is mainly down to a lack of available pet-friendly property, making it much harder for tenants to find a place to live. If you have an investment property for lease, pet owners are much more likely to offer more than the advertised rent to clinch it.
Pet owners tend to rent for longer terms
Research has shown that tenants without pets typically stay in the same rental property for 18 months. Pet owners, on the other hand, tend to rent for twice as long with an average duration of 46 months! Part of this is due to the difficulty in finding pet-friendly properties. So if you have issues with tenant downtime, pet owners could be the answer to all your problems.
A larger rental pool can be accessed
As stated earlier, 62% of Australian households have one or more pets. This is two-thirds of the population. By going pet friendly, you can expand your rental pool reach to 100% instead of just a handful. Of course, the choice is always yours but more prospective tenants equates to less chance of tenant downtime.
You can reach higher-quality tenants
In 2016, 68% of Australian pet owners were reported to be earning between $70,000 to $100,000 a year. Along with being middle to high earners, they are also more likely to have better overall physical and mental health. This is good news for landlords as it means rent is likely to be paid on time while the property is kept in good condition.
What to Consider when Allowing Pets
While making your rental property available to pet owners comes with many benefits, there are a few other things to be aware of.
Pet Insurance for Landlords
Unfortunately, accidental damage caused by pets in your rental property will most likely not be covered by your landlord insurance. In Western Australia, the bond is a maximum of $260. If damage or maintenance costs exceed this, it could leave you out of pocket.
There are one or two landlord insurance providers who do cover pet damage, but this maxes out at around $500. For landlords who are happy for tenants to have pets in their properties but can’t charge a bond or get coverage, charging an increased rent for the privilege is a viable option.
While it might seem unfair to charge more to pet owners, demand for pet friendly rentals far outweighs current supply and this will determine your final decision.
Higher Maintenance Costs
Pets are very much a part of the family but just like children, they have the potential to cause damage to your rental property. The number one priority of a landlord is to maintain the property so that it is in a habitable condition. A property occupied by pets can lead to additional maintenance costs, such as replacing stained carpets, fixing chewed doors or sanding down scratched hardwood floors.
Pet-Proofing Rental Properties
With a few simple renovations, you can create a pet-proof rental property that is easier to maintain and broadens your reach to double the number of prospective tenants. Pretty much a win-win situation for everyone. Pet proofing not only protects your investment, but also gives you peace of mind as a property owner.
Get rid of Carpets
When it comes to tenant keeping pets in a rental property, the part of the house that suffers the most is the floor. Carpets can be expensive to replace and solid wood floors difficult to repair. The quickest and easiest solution is to lay linoleum throughout the property. This provides easy to clean floors for any mistakes or mishaps and keeps sharp claws off of wooden surfaces. Compared to carpet, linoleum is incredibly cheap and is easy to replace if needed.
Paint Instead of Wallpaper
Compared to paint, wallpaper can be incredibly expensive. Cat and dog claws can easily shred wallpaper leading to an expensive and time-consuming repair process. Paint, on the other hand, holds up well against pet claws and if scuffs or marks appear, a quick lick a fresh paint can fix things in an instant.
It’s Your Choice
At the end of the day, it’s ultimately your choice as to whether you allow tenants to keep pets on your property or not. Of course, in some states, pet rent laws make it illegal to deny tenants the right to keep animals in the rental property without good cause.
With more than 50% of people who rent being pet owners, it makes savvy business sense to lease properties as pet-friendly. It doesn’t hurt to request a ‘pet resume’ from prospective tenants. While it’s not a legal requirement, any good pet owner will provide you with one.
At Leased. The choice is entirely yours. Whatever type of pet-clause you want to use, we are able to get you in front of thousands of potential Central Coast tenants. Pet-friendly? Get leashed with Leased