Pet power is a force worth considering when it comes to choosing a home or investment property.
Australians love their furry friends – all 25 million of them. Six out of ten of us own a pet and among those that don’t, half would like to own a pet in the future. That gives animal lovers serious weight of numbers, and new laws in Victoria make it worth adding “pet friendly” to the list of features you’re looking for in a property.
Among landlords, a “no pets” policy can be almost automatic, often making it challenging for tenants with pets to find accommodation. Research by the Australian Veterinary Association shows only 19% of rental properties permit pets, and in areas such as the Melbourne CBD this can fall to 1%.
However, new laws will be announced in Victoria that could give animal lovers the upper hand.
Tenants in Victoria could have the right to keep a pet in their rental property, and while landlords still need to provide consent, they will only be able to refuse in certain circumstances.
This could pave the way for similar initiatives in other states. But even if it doesn’t, there are good reasons for landlords and home buyers alike to add “pet friendly” to their property wish list.
Say “yes” to the pet
Landlords can enjoy real upsides when they open a rental investment to pets. Studies show many dog and cat owners would be prepared to pay higher rent for a pet-friendly property – up to 14% more in fact.
Pet-friendly properties may also rent sooner due to higher demand, and as tenants with pets can be more reliable long term renters, permitting pets can mean fewer vacancy periods.
Allowing pets into your rental property also comes with the feel-good factor of knowing you could be saving lives. Animal welfare agencies say as many as one in three surrendered dogs and cats are handed over by owners who are unable to find suitable accommodation.
The upshot is that plenty of Aussies share their home with pets, and whether you’re buying as an investor or owner occupier, three must-have features are worth looking for that can make a property well-suited to moggies and doggies without compromising comfort for people.
1. Water resistant flooring
Floors can cop a hiding when pets are part of a household. Fur is shed, muddy paws can leave a trail, and occasional accidents are to be expected even with the best trained pets.
Carpet isn’t always the best flooring solution for a home shared with animals – and not just because it can be more difficult to keep clean. The carpet can absorb pet odours as well as providing a welcoming environment for fleas.
Low maintenance alternatives like timber, laminate, vinyl and tiles don’t harbour pet smells and are easy to keep clean.
2. Fencing – good for pets and people
Good fencing is generally high on a pet owner’s wish list, especially dog lovers. Details vary between councils, and this is something worth checking in your area.
Nonetheless, durable fencing doesn’t just appeal to tenants with pets. It also adds to home security, and helps to contain toddlers and young children, so it can be a plus for a wide variety of tenants and potentially add value and market appeal to a property.
3. Layout – is it a plus for pets?
Open plan home designs may be popular but it can pay to look for a layout where pets can be confined to smaller areas. This can be handy when guests are visiting, or if renovations or repairs are being completed in other areas of the home.
The ability to “zone” homes with features like bi-fold doors for instance, can also be popular with families to allow separate adult/child spaces. In this way, zone-able living spaces can appeal to more than animal lovers.
If the home’s layout features balconies, decks or stairwells, check that there are no small gaps that a puppy, smaller breeds or a kitten could fall through.
A pet-friendly rental property shouldn’t just suit animal lovers, it should also fit your budget. Speak with your Aussie Broker to understand your borrowing power, and find the investment property loan that is right for your needs.
You may also be interested in Dear John – what are the costs of buying an investment property?, Look beyond location when buying an investment property and Pets on the move.