New residential tenancy laws came into effect in Queensland on 1 October 2022, making it easier for tenants to keep a pet.
While there has been extensive media coverage of the new legislation, little has focused on the impact on the new laws on bodies corporate.
Under the new provisions of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld):
- a landlord can only refuse a pet request from a tenant on prescribed reasonable grounds;
- a landlord must respond to a pet request within 14 days, failing which the request will be deemed to be approved.
So, what are the prescribed grounds for a landlord’s refusal of a pet application? In short:
- keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of animals being kept at the premises;
- the premises are unsuitable for keeping the pet because of a lack of appropriate fencing, open space or another thing necessary to humanely accommodate the pet;
- keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the premises or inclusions that could not practicably be repaired for a cost that is less than the amount of the rental bond for the premises;
- keeping the pet would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person, including, for example, because the pet is venomous;
- the tenant has not agreed to the reasonable conditions proposed by the landlord for approval to keep the pet; and
- keeping the pet would contravene a body corporate by-law or park rule applying to the premises.
Whilst body corporate blanket-bans on pets are generally unenforceable, most bodies corporate have some type of restriction or regulation on pet approvals, and it is common for a by-law to provide that the body corporate committee is entitled to consider and determine a pet application. A committee can have 6 weeks to decide on a pet application, a period that is evidently much longer than the prescribed 14 days under the tenancy laws.
For a body corporate, the newly introduced residential tenancy laws mean that:
- a landlord’s approval to keep a pet, working dog or other animal at premises is subject to a body corporate by-law, park rule or other law relating to keeping animals at the premise. In other words, body corporate by-laws and a body corporate committee’s decision on a pet application will overrule any approval granted by a landlord if the two are conflicting; and
- one of the prescribed grounds available to refuse a pet request is that keeping the pet would contravene a body corporate by-law or park rule applying to the premises.
If you have a question about a body corporate matter, please get in touch with our lawyers who have a special interest in this area: Rhiannon Saunders on (07) 40461118 or Michael Huelin on (07) 40461177.