Perplexing Pet Protocols: What it means for Landlords and Tenants

25 November 2020

The recent decision preventing Owners Corporations from blanket bans on pets in New South Wales apartment buildings, meaning all unit owners can keep pets in their homes, was seen as a big win for animal lovers. But according to the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW), it has also fuelled confusion among landlords and tenants.  

In the weeks since the NSW Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a Darlinghurst apartment – and pet – owner, stories have emerged of tenants mistakenly assuming the right to keep a pet in their rented apartment extends to them, REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin says.

At the same time, landlords are in the awkward position of being “damned if they do, damned if they don’t.”  

“As it stands, it’s confusing for both tenants and landlords,” Mr McKibbin says. 

“It’s not widely understood that landlords can refuse a tenant from having a pet, irrespective of any by-law preventing the Owners Corporation from making a blanket ban.  

“A lot of tenants aren’t aware of this. In some ways, landlords are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. To grant their tenant permission to keep a pet in their apartment, the landlord also takes responsibility for the tenant’s adherence to the by-laws that govern the keeping of pets in the building. 

“If the tenant takes the pet to the wrong common areas, the landlord is the one who has not been compliant. If the tenant fails to clean up after their pet, again the landlord is the one who has failed to comply.  
“There are other concerns too. For instance, the potential for the pet to damage the landlord’s property, and even more fundamentally, what constitutes a suitable ‘pet’? I’m reminded of the story of an Eastern Suburbs apartment resident living with his horse! 

“On the other hand, if a landlord doesn’t permit the tenant to keep a pet, they risk the wrath of their tenant. Add into the mix the fact that tenants now have the right to know their landlord’s address, and there’s another layer of privacy and security concerns for mum-and-dad investors. 

“At the end of the day, it’s important to remember the basis on which rental agreements exist. The rented property is indeed the tenant’s home, but the property itself belongs to the landlord,” Mr McKibbin says.

To download the Media Release Click Here.

For further information contact:

Tim McKibbin, Chief Executive Officer, REINSW
Mobile: 0415 931 013
[email protected]

Stephen Naylor, Wise McBaron
Mobile: 0432 656 193
[email protected]


The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) is the peak industry body for real estate agents and property professionals in NSW. It represents more than 2000 agencies across residential sales, property management, commercial, strata management, buyers’ agency, agency services and auctioneering. Established in 1910, REINSW works to improve the standards, professionalism and expertise of its members to continually evolve and innovate the industry. It lobbies the government and industry on behalf of members, develops new products and services to benefit agencies and professionals, and offers training and ongoing professional development. For more information, visit