Generation 'F'; the rise of the fur baby!

As an owner of investment property, I am increasingly asked by my managing agents if my new tenants can rent with a pet. Tenants require written permission from the owner or property manager before moving a pet in with them, additionally as the owner I can be specific about what pets are allowed and under what terms. Thankfully for our latest tenants and their fluffy friend, both my wife and I are pet friendly.

Statistics show that in QLD only 10% of property owners allow tenants to rent with pets, a staggeringly low number considering that 62% of all households in Australia have an animal friend. The numbers speak for themselves; that’s about 33 million pets including approximately 4.8 million dogs and 3.9 million cats and we indulge over $12 billion on them annually.

This lack of pet friendly homes has sparked calls from industry bodies such as the REIQ for more property owners to consider allowing pets.

After consultation with Stuart Gilles of the Animal Welfare League Australia I was informed that arecent survey among their member organisations around Australia indicated 20% of their animal surrenders in 2015-16 were due to owners moving into new accommodation where pets were unwelcome, including the refusal by landlords and/or agents to allow pets in a rented dwelling.

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In Victoria they seem to be taking a stand in favour of pets. Under new tenancy laws all tenants will have the right to have a pet in their rental property bar a limited number of circumstances, which includes council laws and body corporate guidelines.

One wonders if a body corporate can make this stick; in NSW, in the ‘Rhode Island CTS 20573’ decision in 2012, it was held that a by-law stating that their body corporate by-law was invalid because it was found to be oppressive and unreasonable. In NSW an owner has the right to dictate whether a pet is allowed to occupy their property, if the Lessor says no pets then nothing the body corporate says or do will alter that in any way.

Away from the law, I’d always imagined that the older generations were the ones with the most pets, and I guess that ‘X’ generation includes my wife and I (and our mischievous puppy), but the numbers are surprisingly different. According to Animal Medecines Australia (and their findings from Newgate Research and other resources), the largest pet ownership group is in fact the Generation Y’s. There is a strong desire for pets – especially cats and dogs – among those that live in apartments or units, and renters, key barriers for this cohort being the impacts of strata and body corporate regulations.

The issue here is now clear, many of the younger generation are not in a position to own a home as yet, many of these being renters and indeed ideal tenants. Ideal tenants conscientious enough to give a loving home to an animal, and one would have thought organised enough to deal with the responsibilities of owning an animal.

Add to this the humanisation of pets is resulting in ‘premiumisation’, with Australians now spending more on premium products, services and insurance to manage and enhance the wellbeing of their pets.

So, pet lover or not, why not invest in a property that can accommodate a pet in a small enclosed garden or courtyard and increase your rental opportunities? Pet doors are affordable, safe and easy to install and insurance isn't out of the question, nor is the opportunity to ask for a little more rent. Generation fluffy and their fur babies will love you, as will their children, the RSPCA, the AWLA and of course me and all my new friends at the dog park 😊.