We love sharing the stories and experiences of pet friendly landlords and tenants renting with pets. We believe these stories play an important role in raising awareness and nurturing trust amongst pet owners, landlords and agents.
In this article, we asked Lisa, NSW landlord and owner of Polite Paws Dog Training, about her experiences allowing pets in her rental property.
Were you always open to allowing pets in your rental? If not, what changed your mind?
Yes, I’ve always been open to pets. I understand that pets are a part of family life, so would never want to take that away from someone.
What are common misconceptions that you believe landlords have about pets?
That things like digging, peeing inside, ripping up carpet, scratching doors, eating gardens, chewing door frames are things that “normal” happy pets do. This is totally incorrect as these things are usually due to lack of education on the owner’s part, lack of mental enrichment for the pets and lack of basic manners training.
Also, often these issues can be in part due to mental illness like Separation Anxiety, Storm Phobia or OCD that has been ignored and left untreated. So happy pets with responsible owners who have worked with trainers (especially if they’re members of organisation such as PPGA (https://ppgaustralia.net.au/) or APDT(http://www.apdt.com.au/), have usually addressed these types of issues.
Another common misconception is that dogs are better outside to reduce damage, or better off in a house than an apartment. To be honest dogs that live outside receive less interaction, get more bored and can develop behavioural issues. In my view, if a dog is allowed inside they are less likely to cause damage.
Have you ever experienced any damage to your property from pets?
I have had $20,000 of damage from humans and only $50 of labour filling in holes etc from a dog with separation anxiety. The owners did not treat their dog’s mental illness with medication and did not even address the issue with food enrichment toys, separation training or anything other than just trying to block her getting out.
I made the mistake of trusting that the person would have this sort of problem addressed because she was supposedly a full-time trainer for a well-known boarding kennel. It’s only $50 of damage but still I made the mistake of trusting their knowledge when I should’ve known better because dog training is an unregulated industry.
What are your recommendations to other landlords to help prevent damage from pets?
Really discuss at length any behavioural issues the pet may have, how they address it, what trainers they have worked with (PPGA & APDT) or vet behaviourists they have consulted. How do they keep their pets busy while they are out (food toys), how do they meet their mental requirements (walking isn’t enough for dogs) and ask if you can see dated photos of their yard and inside of their current property with focus on outdoor access points (so you can see any signs of animals trying to escape).
What do you think about having pet cover in your landlord insurance policy?
I think it’s important if you plan to accept pets just in case, and yes, I am covered. I think all insurances should cover pets, they’re part of the family!
What can pet owners include in their rental application to increase their changes of being the successful tenant?
I always look for a tenant who is honest about their dog including their good and bad points, but also a detailed explanation as to how they address any issues they may have. It shows that they understand their dog’s behaviour and are already proactive about working with their behaviour.
I feel this should help landlords feel more confident about trusting their commitment to responsible tenancy and pet ownership. Certificates from training classes, a letter from a trainer saying that they have worked with the pet, or a letter from a previous landlord to confirm the pet has been a good tenant also helps too.
How do you feel about the new Victorian laws where pets are allowed (by default) in rental properties?
I do think that all properties can be suitable for pets, however not all properties are suitable for all pets. As long as consideration is taken into making sure the pet/s are a good match for the property then I think it is a good step forward for renters with pets.
Is there anything else that pet owners can do to help make you feel even more comfortable? Any ideas, even if they don’t exist at the moment?
Meeting the pet at the property or within their current property, however this is often not possible. I think an additional pet bond is a good idea, however, some argue that kids should have a bond too! I mean, what causes more damage….?
How has your experience as a dog trainer impacted your views on tenants with pets?
It impacted me a great deal from the very beginning, a no pets policy was never an option. When I bought my property, we looked for one that would be suitable for pets. After purchase we erected fencing to allow tenants to have pets both big and small. I knew what to look for in a pet friendly property that would help reduce any behavioural issues tenants may experience with pets.
As a dog trainer, what tips for you have for tenants with pets to care for their rental and impress their landlord?
|If you have a dog who likes to dig, make sure you have a digging pit for them.|
|If you have a female dog and grass, make sure that you have a sprinkler to water the lawn daily to disperse urine so it doesn’t burn the lawn.|
|Use food toys to replace all of your pets’ meals and understand that mental enrichment helps stop behavioural issues or boredom which are the most common reason for damage.|
|Attend training with a trainer who is educated in the modern science of training and behaviour, is a member of PPGA or APDT and if you suspect it is serious like separation anxiety, see a Veterinary Behaviourist.|
|Keep litter trays very clean and fake grass toilets well disinfected and free of poo.|
What do you feel are the benefits of landlords listing on a free dedicated pet friendly rentals website like Homes with Soul?
It creates a place where tenants can go to a find a property without the disappointment of most homes saying they don’t allow pets after enquiring.
Lisa Hilleard has run Polite Paws Dog Training and Polite Paws Products for almost 10 years in the Inner West of Sydney and has just opened up a new venue in the Hawksberry. Her Training business focuses on equipping pet owners with the knowledge and skills to help their dogs be happy and well-mannered family pets. Her online store is focused on bringing new types of doggy enrichment available in the market, to ensure pets mental requirements are met. Along with natural treats for training and chews for when pets are left alone, plus force-free training equipment and other goodies.