When we signed the lease for our apartment four years ago, I asked the letting agent whether we'd be able to get a pet. "No." Okay, fine. A year later, the lease was up and they came do an inspection. We're good tenants. They put us on another lease. We decided we wanted a cat. Every single person I asked in Sydney (including the Sydney Morning Herald
) said that pets in Sydney apartments were basically "Don't ask, don't tell" and that we should go ahead and get one anyway. So we did. In fact, you all helped us
adjust to life with Puss Puss. She's totally indoor; she's quiet; she's never crapped on the floor. Yeah, there are a few worn spots in the carpet, but you'd expect that anyway after four years, right?
So last night we got the dreaded letter in the post box. It was addressed to everybody in our block and said that the letting agency had become aware that some tenants were keeping cats. (And something about "litter" being seen in common areas.) As this is in breach of the rental agreements, we're all supposed to get rid of them.
1) I'm not even sure this is pointed at us. There are at least two cats that run around outside loose in our block (and have tags). My first thought was that the "litter" might refer to their scat, and them possibly digging in people's gardens.
2) Even if it is pointed at us - can they actually force us to get rid of her or even evict us? I've done a fair amount of Internet searching, and so far everything I've come up with applies to other states. This page
seems to indicate that in the ACT at least, a "no pets" clause violates the spirit of clause 52, and the Tenants Union "contends that having a pet or pets is a normal, common part of using rented premises for residential purposes." According to Findlaw
, the Victorian Tenants Union has the similar belief that "you cannot be evicted unless your landlord can prove your pet is causing a nuisance, damaging the property or endangering the safety of neighbours."
Yeah, we broke the agreement. No need to point that out. The issue is whether that's even a fair or legal clause to begin with. Additionally, well, I feel like we DESERVE to have a cat. We're good tenants. We've never been late on a rent payment, and it's gone up several times. We don't have loud parties. We have a cleaner and we keep the place looking good. We're responsible pet owners who keep their pet clean, immunized, and indoors.
So what do we do? Have any of you been in a similar situation? My immediate plan is just to disregard the notice until they force the issue. But what are the options? I'm thinking I can put the case to them that we should be allowed to keep her, and that we're happy to pay an extra bond or submit to inspections or whatever. Or are we doomed to have to decide between our cat and our apartment?