Renting with pets

Should pet lovers have more choice when it comes to pet-friendly rentals?

21 Apr 2016 By Zahra Gaitskell Comments

I am a self confessed animal person. I've grown up surrounded by pets and I can't imagine ever being without some sort of animal companion. When I left home with my partner to move across the country, it meant leaving the family pets (a sweet little cat and a devoted miniature schnuazer) behind. Not only were we without our furry family, having to find a rental meant we weren't sure if, or when, we might be able to start a fur-family of our own.

Accommodation was a stressful and unknown part of the move. We needed somewhere to live fast. There was a roller coaster of inspections and applications before we were finally approved for a rental. It was just a small apartment, but it was home. We had started by looking for a place that allowed pets but they were few and far between and we didn't have the time to be picky. We resolved to bide our time, be good tenants and hope we might be able to get a pet eventually.

We were smart and picked a building that did allow pets, checked the Owners Corp rules and chatted to the neighbours who we saw with animals. Because we were in an apartment building we faced restrictions on the size of animal we might be allowed, but cats and small dogs were allowed as long as they didn't disrupt other tenants. We looked longingly at neighbours taking their Frenchies for a walk, or cats in carriers headed to the vet. We wondered where we might put a food bowl or a litter tray and where the closest park was. We researched breeds of dogs that were suited to apartment living, and daydreamed about a purring kitten sleeping on our laps.

It turned out a few of our neighbours had snuck in animals against their landlord’s wishes. While we were tempted, it just wasn't something we were prepared to do. Rentals are hard to get and we didn't want to jeopardise our good relationship with the landlord. It's understandable that people choose to sneak in an animal; not having the freedom to have a pet can be very disappointing for those of us who need to rent. Ultimately we understood that the choice was that of the person who owned the place we were living in.

We established ourselves as good tenants, paying on time, keeping the place clean and making ourselves available when our landlord wanted to visit and complete maintenance. We documented our history as responsible and successful pet owners, and compiled everything we thought might be relevant before approaching our landlord with a proposal. Let us have a cat or small dog (we would happily have either) and we would pay a pet-specific additional bond, insert a pet clause into our contract and pay an extra $30 a week (above market value) in extra rent.

Unfortunately for us, this wasn't something our landlord was interested in. He appreciated our polite and thorough request but he felt a pet might de-value his asset. The maintenance of the apartment was his priority and he wasn't willing to deal with the extra problems he thought a pet, ANY pet would cause. Despite plenty of others with pets in apartments with the same layout in the building, it was his opinion that they weren't really suitable for animals. Perhaps we might've had more luck in a house or ground floor apartment, or if we were in the 'burbs and not the inner city.

It was a shame, but it was an outcome we were prepared for. The experience was the kick in the butt we needed to sort out our finances and ultimately buy and move into our own place. We couldn't be happier in our small, but very much our, new apartment. The place we ended up with doesn't have any outdoor space so we made the decision to get two cats instead of a dog. Our two kittens; Pj, the most affectionate and cuddly Australian Mist you'll ever meet, and Henry, a tenacious and delightful rescue with tuxedo markings, have enriched our lives more than we could ever have thought possible. We don't regret the decision to get our own place or our fur-babies. We're ultimately grateful for the time we spent renting because it helped us get to where we are now.

Renting and having pets can be hard or even impossible in our case. The experience has strengthened my resolve that pets are a wonderful and important part of people's lives. Should I ever be in a position to choose whether a tenant has a pet or not, I have no doubt that I would let them. Renting shouldn't mean that you miss out on the love of an animal. The world would be a better place if responsible pet owners always had a roof over their heads!

We'd love to hear your pet rental stories....

Follow Henry Lee & PJ Harvey on Instagram @henryandpj

21 Apr 2016 By Zahra Gaitskell Comments

comments powered by Disqus