Tenants with Pets; Discrimination, Extra Bond and Extra Rental
Monday, March 05, 2018
Can a landlord demand an additional bond from a pet-owning tenant?
We have been asked recently about seeking from tenants additional bonds under the guise of ‘pet bonds’, ‘sureties’, or ‘guarantees’. Apparently the thinking is that these types of bonds can be taken in addition to the four weeks rent that is ordinarily taken by landlords. Landlords must ensure that they do not charge tenants a bond over the maximum permitted under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act (RTRA), regardless of how that bond is described.
A rental bond is an amount paid by the tenant for the financial protection of the lessor against the tenant breaching the agreement. In determining whether an amount is a rental bond, it does not matter how it is described in the agreement or arrangement.
The RTRA specifies the maximum rental that is payable for securing the tenant’s obligation under the lease agreement and that maximum is 4 weeks rent.
Therefore, if a landlord asks a tenant for a ‘pet bond’ then the amount will be considered a part of the total bond payable, which must not exceed the statutory maximum of 4 weeks rent.
In Queensland the penalty for landlords asking for or receiving greater than the maximum rental is $2,438.
Can a landlord charge a tenant additional rent from a pet-owning tenant?
Imposing special tenancy terms and conditions is not discrimination. Landlords can ban pets from the premises in the rental agreement. Alternatively a landlord can insert special terms that govern whether the animal must be kept outside or inside. Also, a landlord can seek damages from a tenant whose pet causes loss or damage to the landlord’s property. Rental can be increased regarding pets.
In Queensland the anti-discrimination legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on several bases such as gender, race, age, religion, and so on. However it is not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of pet ownership. This means that landlords can charge pet-owning tenants more rent than tenants without pets.
 Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld), s 111(1).
 As above, s 111(3).
 Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld).
 As above, s112(1)(b).