Can you rent a property with your furry friend? And are landlords taking a risk if you do? We take a look at the issues surrounding renting with pets.
Words by Christine Toner
We’re a nation of pet lovers.
According to figures from the RSPCA, about one in two UK households own a pet – and not all of those households will be occupier owned.
Couple this with a recent report by Knight Frank which found that one in four households in Britain will be renting privately by the end of 2021, and we can expect to see an awful lot of tenants with animals looking for accommodation to rent.
Some developers are starting to recognise this when marketing new properties. Indeed, both the newly built Cargo Building and PlaceFirst’s revitalised Welsh Streets homes have policies in place allowing tenants to have pets, as they target long-term renters who may never venture into buying.
Clearly there are benefits to welcoming man’s best friend into rental properties.
“It definitely opens up the market to a wider demographic, says Joe Gervin, director of Liverpool Property Solutions (LPS). “Folk love their pets and treat them as part of the family, and as such they feel aggrieved by being refused a tenancy based on their furry friend.”
The issue with most city centre apartment blocks is that having pets is contrary to the superior lease.
But while a number of new developments are open to tenants with pets, many landlords are not so accommodating.
“Obviously landlords are traditionally quite wary in relation to pets due to the extent of wear and tear caused by them. With the government getting rid of wear and tear deductions for landlords it could make the property owners more reluctant to allow tenants with pets moving forward.
For city centre apartments the issue is even more complex says Debra Beach, branch manager at Keppie Massie.
“The issue with most city centre apartment blocks is that having pets is contrary to the superior lease Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so the landlord would be breaking the superior lease and, in the worst case scenario, would risk being forced to sell by the freeholder for breaking the lease,” says Debra.
But even for those landlords without a freeholder there are new stumbling blocks to letting to tenants with pets. The Draft Tenants Fees bill which was launched in this year’s Queen’s Speech included a proposal to cap security deposits to one month.
Roughly 1 in 2 households own a pet and 1 in 4 households will be privately rented by 2021.
“For other properties where there is no superior lease restriction landlords would usually ask for an increased deposit to allow pets, says Debra. “As new legislation threatens to make requiring a double deposit unlawful this puts the landlord more at risk.
“In addition, under landlord licensing the landlord has to ensure that if there is any antisocial behaviour – including barking dogs – they take steps to make sure their tenants stop this from happening, ultimately looking at eviction. Either way it’s further hassle and potential expense for the landlord.”
Debra says it’s not just the potential damage whilst the pet lives in the property that’s a problem, but the threat of fleas in soft furnishings for up to six months after. This can threaten future tenancies and rental income.
“I have had landlords in the past who have allowed animals (proving no superior lease restrictions) on satisfactory inspection of the tenants’ current property where the pet has been in situ, and added an addendum where they agree to have the carpets/upholstery professionally cleaned – including flea treatment – on exit,” she adds.
Such an addendum seems a common feature in tenancy agreements for tenants with pets, with LPS also recommending such a clause.
“If accepted, many landlords are advised by us to take a larger deposit to cover any carpet and furniture cleans when tenants vacate,” says Joseph.
Of course, the type of pet and their behaviour will have an impact on what precautions need to be taken.
“The number of pets is a must, and also the size of pets and whether they are house trained are the general questions landlords ask LPS to enquire from prospective tenants,” Joseph adds.
But what about renters who already have pets? What advice would agents offer to them to help them find homes in the city at present?
“Offering a pet profile to landlords is always a good thing,” says Joseph. “Landlords like to know who their other occupants are and a brief explanation and picture is important. A previous landlord pet reference is also a great idea.”
Renting with pets: Top tips for landlords
Dogs trust has put together a list of tips to encourage more landlords and letting agents to let properties to tenants with pets:
- Evaluate prospective tenants and their pets on an individual basis – get a reference from a previous landlord where possible and judge each case on its merit
- In the case of dogs, ask to meet the owner and their dog so you can see for yourself that the dog is well cared for and well behaved
- Limit the number of pets allowed according to the size and type of property
- Ask for a reasonable, additional deposit to cover any damage that may be caused by pets
- Add a pet clause to your usual tenancy agreement. You may also wish to include a pet policy
- Take full details of any pets you have given permission for, including the contact details of someone who can take care of them in case of an emergency
- Ensure the property is checked regularly by your agency or the landlord to prevent problems arising