Can you take your beloved pet with you to a retirement village?

For those of us with pets, be it furry or feathered friends, it's important to consider retirement village pet policies before making the big move. Here’s what you need to know.

Consider this scenario: you find a retirement village you like yet there is a ‘no pet’ policy. It can seem harsh and unnecessary, right?

If you further question the policy, often a village manager will say they allow goldfish but that’s it – no birds, cats or dogs. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason why residents can’t have pets in a retirement village. But there are reasons and they are more to do with the owners and not the pets themselves!

Pets _retirement _village _cute _kitten
Who can say no to these adorable creatures?!

Potential pet disputes
Speaking to village managers and some resident associations, you’ll find the reasons behind a ‘no pet’ policy are not a general dislike of animals. It’s more about the possible behaviour of residents about these animals.

What seems to happen in retirement villages is a dispute arises between neighbours because of a pet. The village manager is forced to try and handle the situation and this ends up being very difficult.  

Issues with neighbours
There are many real life stories about such disputes in retirement villages around Australia. A bird singing happily in its cage every morning might be music to its owner’s ears, but to the neighbour next door, it’s a raucous, ear-piercing noise which is disturbing their tranquil environment. It is unfortunate but see the problem?  

There have been situations where a neighbour has gone to their state tribunal (each state has a retirement village tribunal which can make a judging on disputes) and village operators have become caught up in the dispute, ending up being required to pay court costs in the thousands of dollars.

If you ask village managers will tell you loads of stories about disputes between neighbours centred around the noise a pet makes or the behaviour of a friendly pet which some people love and others find incredibly annoying.

Pets _retirement _village _grandfather _gradnson _puppy
Both you and the managers are responsible for your pet in a retirement village 

For example, there’s the dog that jumps up on people too much or goes into the next door neighbour’s yard and digs up their garden. The list goes on and on. It is hard not to feel a little bit sorry for the managers because they are the ones who end up being the adjudicator, trying to find a solution to these uncomfortable situations.  

Who makes the rules?
Unfortunately, it is easy to see how the manager of a retirement village could end up opting for a ‘no pet’ policy. It is the manager of a retirement village who usually applies pet guidelines, often supported by representatives of the village residents committee and within the guidelines of the village contract.  

However, if you want to move into a retirement village and you want to take your pet with you, the first step is to check the village contract and its pet policy. Most contracts have a line relating to your right to quiet, safe and uninterrupted occupation. It becomes a legal responsibility of the village to deliver these rights to you and if pets impact on your peace and quiet, then the village is failing to deliver under the terms of the contract.

Pets _retirement _village _senior _with _dogs
Check the village contract and the pet policy to see what rules apply when having a pet

There’s another rule to look out for which is called the non-replacement rule. For example if you move into a retirement village, they may say you can bring your pet dog or cat but once your beloved pet passes on, you can not get another.  

Again, this can seem very harsh. Perhaps the village manager is concerned about what will happen to a young puppy or kitten that may well outlive the resident. This is a tricky situation as it means someone will have to find a new home for the pet.

The obvious solution to this situation is for a resident to leave clear instructions as to what members of their family will take over the care of their pet, should they pass on. Once this is done, there should be no concern about the pet’s future, making the owning of a new pet more viable. It is worth at least asking the question to see if you can negotiate.  

Pets _retirement _village _cute _puppy
Asking family to look after your pet is worth considering if the village's pet policy is limited

Can I bring my pet?
Thankfully there are quite a few newer retirement villages catering for the market for retirement villages which allow pets. These villages stipulate a clear pet policy in their resident’s contracts, outlining which pets are allowed and which pets are not. Plus added information on how the animals need to be looked after and how they need to behave. For example, cats with bells around their necks are often allowed, as are small to medium size dogs.  

While it requires more work and more effort on the retirement village’s part, many residents find it an attractive option to be able to bring their pets with them. It seems if guidelines for pet behaviour are set out clearly in the beginning and disputes are handled in the very early stages – before they escalate and get out of control – having pets can work very well in retirement villages.  

This type of pet policy has even been applied to serviced apartments and it’s been found to work – providing a huge win for pet owners all round. And it’s clearly worth it. Most people benefit a great deal from owning a pet. After all having a beloved pet around is great for your health and heart.  

Here's a compilation of cute puppies that will just make your day!

What are you thoughts on pets in retirement villages? Join the conversation.