A man has been allowed to keep a Siberian husky puppy in a third-storey, one-bedroom Braddon apartment under new residential tenancy laws designed to make it easier for renters to keep pets.
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal found tenant Josiah Brunne had answered the concerns of his lessor, MMP Investors Pty Ltd, which had tried to block Mr Brunne from keeping the dog in the apartment.
Senior tribunal member Heidi Robinson found Mr Brunne could keep the dog if it was exercised daily, did not urinate or defecate on the balcony and Mr Brunne had the apartment cleaned of dog hair when he vacated it.
Ms Robinson, in a written decision published earlier this month, said it was a borderline case but the tenant had addressed the lessor's concerns and satisfied new rental laws to be able to keep the dog.
"Having regard to all the information available, and whatever my concerns about the practicality of this arrangement in the long term, and the suitability of huskies for apartments more generally, I cannot be satisfied that this premises is inherently unsuitable for this particular dog," Ms Robinson said.
The lessor submitted it was concerned for the welfare of a larger dog in a small, indoor space and the potential damage to the unit.
Ms Robinson said she had been presented with a husky puppy that was raised in an apartment, crate trained, trained to use an indoor dog toilet, not inclined to howl or bark and would be exercised daily.
Mr Brunne's evidence before the tribunal was that he and his partner had an active lifestyle, and they would exercise the dog once or twice every day and there were two dog parks within walking distance of the apartment.
Mr Brunne was also ordered to obtain consent from the apartment building's owners corporation and comply with its rules and policies.
Ms Robinson said she held general concerns for huskies being kept in apartments but she could not be satisfied the unit was "inherently unsuitable for this particular dog", which was currently with the tenant's father, who lived in an apartment in Queensland.
She said a multistorey apartment building may not be ideal for an active dog but many people kept pets in apartments.
"The fact the premises is an apartment, and indeed a small apartment, is a relevant consideration, but is not decisive," Ms Robinson said.
Mr Brunne submitted to the tribunal the dog would only be allowed on the balcony under supervision to prevent it from jumping, had been trained to use an indoor toilet, and was not given to barking or howling.
"While I have some concerns about the space issue, I accept that the dog can live comfortably in an apartment environment if exercised regularly, indeed daily, in the manner proposed by the tenant," Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson said the lessor's concerns had been reasonable, and there was a strong argument a large, high-energy dog with potential to howl and bark when bored would not be suited to apartment living.
"This decision applies in relation to this tenant, this premises and this particular dog. Other applications involving active or working dogs in small apartments would need to be considered on a case by case basis," Ms Robinson said.
The ACT's residential tenancy laws were changed in November last year, preventing landlords from banning pets outright. Landlords who wish to refuse pets must get approval from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.