It’s estimated that 59% of households already have a pet in the UK. Most have dogs, while cat ownership comes in at a close second. In contrast, according to Battersea Dogs Home, the number of households occupied by private renters has doubled in size, yet “only 7 per cent of private landlords have listed their properties as allowing animals.”
With tenants renting properties on average for 4.2 years and 23% staying for 5-10 years, 34% more than 10 years, for many renting is now a permanent home where people want to settle down either with kids, pets, or indeed both. (Source: EHS)
Landlords that typically don’t want to let to people with pets argue they have or can cause a lot of damage. However, a recent survey by Propertymark, LandlordZONE and AdvoCats reported that “adult tenants cause as much damage as pets in rental properties and that for smaller landlords, animal damage costs less to repair”. The report did uncover though that when damage from pets does occur it isn’t easy to recoup costs, with only 50% being able to secure funds to cover the costs incurred.
Other research suggests that landlords that do allow pets benefit from good tenants who not only look after their pets well, but also the property. They typically stay longer as it’s so tough to find another home to rent and, due to the shortage of landlords accepting pets, it can mean you rent your property faster too, potentially at higher than average rental levels.
Legally, at the moment, landlords don’t have to accept tenants’ pets unless it’s an assistance dog which you can’t legally refuse. However, the Government is trying to change the culture in favour of landlords letting to pets in two key ways. Firstly, they have re-written parts of their own ‘model tenancy agreement’ which is free for landlords to use. This now states landlords can’t issue a ‘blanket ban’ on pets, instead, if the tenant requests to let with pets, using this agreement, you will have to respond within 28 days of receiving the request if you object and give reasons why.c
Although it will always be difficult for the Government to force landlords to let tenants have pets, in our experience, with good referencing, it is possible to let your property safely to tenants with pets as they typically look after their pets and your property very well.
Our 4 checks to let safely to tenants with pets
1. Meet the tenant and the pets and ask them to explain how long the pet will be left for, especially if it’s a dog, as if they are working all day, this can lead to boredom and problems such as barking when the tenant is out causing a nuisance to neighbours.
2. Request to see the pets’ vaccinations so you know they are up to date and check they have regular flea and worm treatment if required. Some may have signed up to packages from the vet or online, which can add extra reassurance they are being well looked after.
3. Secure a reference from their vet and/or kennels, in writing, to confirm the tenant is a responsible pet owner and the pets are well looked after.
4. Ask what happens when the tenant goes on holiday, or in an emergency. Do they have someone else live in? Will local kennels look after them? Or, if they have cats and other pets that can be left alone, who will look after them while they are away? It’s also worth asking for these details, just in case an emergency occurs, and you need to step in to make sure the pets are safe.
If we are fully managing your property, we will carry out all the necessary checks for you. From our perspective, we very rarely see any issues when letting to tenants with pets and the periodic checks we carry out on a property helps us spot any problems before they become a major issue.
Thinking of letting your property and considering letting with pets? Do contact your local Portico branch for further guidance.