Animals in rental properties: what is allowed?

Jul 3, 2023.

If your family includes a dog, fish or snake, then questions often arise when you’re looking for a new rental property. Which animals are allowed? What needs to be clarified in advance? And who is liable if the animal causes any damage? We’ve got the answers to the most frequently asked questions about keeping animals in rental properties for you here.



Whether it’s a family of guinea pigs on the balcony, poisonous snakes in a teenager’s bedroom or a dog staying with you while its owners are on holiday, if you want to avoid getting into trouble with your new landlord or neighbours, you should clarify which pets are allowed in the property and what you should get put in writing before signing the rental agreement.



Can my landlord stop me from having pets in the rental property?

Yes, they can. If the rental contract doesn’t say anything about keeping animals in the property, then it is generally allowed. But most contracts contain clear guidelines on this. If not, you should raise the issue before signing the contract and have it put in writing that you are allowed to keep your cat or dog in the property. If you break the rules, you risk having your tenancy terminated.



If keeping animals is not allowed, does that also apply to my hamster?

No, small animals such as guinea pigs, canaries or fish don’t need the landlord’s permission, but only if you keep a reasonable number of these animals. If small animals are unusually noisy, smelly or dirty, the landlord can send you a written warning and then demand that the animals be removed.   



So I can keep my bird-eating spider without any problems?

No, you can’t. For exotic or poisonous animals such as snakes, scorpions or spiders, you need a permit. This also applies to particularly noisy animals like parrots. The following applies to all animal species: once you have been granted a permit, the landlord must have a good reason to refuse permission (e.g. if an animal becomes a danger to other people).



My neighbour can have a cat, but I can’t. Is that allowed?

That’s allowed, yes. There is no equal treatment provision in tenancy law – the decision is entirely up to the landlord. So what others are allowed to do doesn’t automatically apply to you. However, a lack of fairness often leads to disputes between the parties, which is certainly not in the interests of the landlord. In this case, try talking to them.



Can I host visiting guests who have a dog, despite the ban?

Yes, a ban doesn’t apply to visiting animals. Nor can the landlord stop you from having a dog stay overnight or from looking after one for a few days. If the visits become very regular or the animal starts disturbing the neighbours, the landlord might stop you from looking after it.



Who pays for damage caused by my pet in the rental property?

This is usually covered by your personal liability insurance. Important: If you want to buy an aquarium, you should clarify whether water damage is included under your personal liability insurance.


Fortuna Legal Protection Insurance – a subsidiary of Generali Switzerland – has been helping customers to access justice for 50 years. During this time, it has grown significantly and now applies the expertise and experience of over 100 employees in 31 branches of law.