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What to do when your tenants have unauthorised pets on your property

Photo: 08-feb-08 by Paul Joseph

If you’re one of the landlords who don’t allow pets on your property who just discovered your tenant is living with one, it is important to know what you can do about it.

Allowing pets in your rental home is a contentious topic. Despite the fact that many Kiwis have pets, most landlords aren’t keen to have them running around their rentals. If you’re one of the 86% of landlords who don’t allow pets on your property, you might one day have to deal with the surprise of a tenant living with a pet despite your rules. How should you handle this situation? Unfortunately, despite having a tenancy agreement in place, your options are pretty limited.

Self resolution

Open face-to-face communication is often the best first way to approach the issue. Set up a time and place that works for you and your tenant to bring up the pet issue. You should be prepared with what you plan to say and hope to achieve, and decide how a compromise might work in your situation. If you reach an agreement you should put it in writing and have you and your tenant sign and date it to avoid future confusion.

14 day notice to remedy

If you find there is a pet on your property, and self resolution hasn’t been effective, you can give your tenants a 14 day notice to remedy. Keep in mind this option is only available if there is a clause in your tenancy agreement that explicitly forbids pets. This notice informs the tenant of what they did to breach your agreement, how they can remedy the breach, and how much time they have to fix it. If the pet issue isn’t resolved after this 14 day notice has been sent out, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter sorted out.

You can find a Notice to Remedy template here

Consider a change of policy

If your tenant is otherwise great, you might consider changing your pet policy. Not only will this potentially lead to a longer term tenancy, but it may open up the possibility for you to charge higher rent on future tenancies for allowing the luxury of a pet friendly home (a rare find in New Zealand).

Hopefully you’ll never run into the issue of unauthorised pets on your property, but with 64% of New Zealanders owning furry friends, you should be prepared for the possibility. Rather than being blindsided by this breach, take some time now to decide whether you would address the issue head on with your tenants, or make a change to your personal pet policy.


The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not, and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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