Experts have criticised new pet-friendly tenant laws, saying they create more problems, not fewer
Realestate.com.au reports that Laws designed to make it easier for tenants to keep pets will create more problems than they solve in strata title complexes, says the former head of Queensland’s body corporate commission.
In a harsh assessment of the new ‘pet-friendly’ laws set to pass through Queensland’s parliament, Chris Irons, who was Body Corporate and Community Management commissioner (BCCM) for five years, says the changes create another layer of approvals for a tenant.
He says the laws deal only with tenants seeking permission from a landlord, but a body corporate overruled property owners in strata title complexes.
“You could have a scenario where a tenant fights with their landlord to have a pet but the body corporate says ‘no’, and vice versa,” Mr Iron, who is also on the board of Strata Community Association, said.
He said the changes were “window dressing” for one of the top five complaints lodged annually with the BCCM.
“They make it easier from the landlord-tenant relationship, but not the body corporate-tenant relationship,” said Mr Irons who has branched out on his own as a body corporate consultant.
“It is window dressing and will create more work for the commissioner’s office (BCCM) and they are already in a very difficult situation.”
Of the top five conciliation disputes handled by the BCCM last financial year, pets were third, behind maintenance and improvements disagreements
He said if a body corporate rejected a request for a pet, it could take “several months” for a tenant to gain approval through the BCCM.
“In the meantime, you have to go through the expense of housing the pet elsewhere while the situation gets resolved,” he said.
Lobby group Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said the onus of approval should be reversed with all tenants permitted to keep a pet and landlords or a body corporate being the ones who have to contest it.
“The starting point should be that pets are allowed,” Ms Carr said.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said it was unreasonable for the onus to be reversed as a property owner should have the right to ban pets.
Property managers will have 14 days to respond to a request to keep a pet with a non-reply considered as permission being granted, Ms Mercorella said.
“It’s going to create a lot more work for property managers who are going to have to explain and educate owners on the grounds on which they can say ‘no’,” she said.
“You can ask the owner of the property to keep a pet and they can say ‘yes’, but then the bylaws that govern that complex may prohibit pets.
"As a general rule, we are seeing bylaws that have a blanket ban on pets, being more and more overruled.”
A Department of Communities and Housing representative said not all rental properties, including houses, units and townhouses, are covered by a body corporate.
“The government’s renting reform legislation sets out clear prescribed reasonable grounds for a refusal to be given, and ensures that a response to a pet request is provided within 14 days,” they said.
“The new laws acknowledge the role of body corporates and by-laws. The reasonable grounds prescribed in the legislation include a grounds for refusal if keeping the pet would breach laws or by-laws.”
Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the laws would make it easier for renters to keep a pet, The Courier-Mail reported.
“It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical details of legislation but in reality, this is about people,” she said.
LNP housing spokesman Tim Mander said reducing the reasons a landlord could turn down a request for a pet to be kept on premises was wrong.
Under the diluted proposals, property owners can refuse a pet on “reasonable grounds” and place conditions on the lease, including a pet must be kept outdoors and carpets are cleaned when the lease ends.
“These changes remove a lessor’s right to simply refuse a tenant outright to have a pet without reason,” he said.
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