Currently tenants may seek permission to keep pets in privately rented accommodation, but the final decision, ultimately, lies with the landlord. With approximately 26% of households currently being pet owners (1), and the estimated number of people in privately rented accommodation expected to rise to 1 in 4 households in the next 3 years (2), not allowing pets into rented accommodation could leave a lot of households struggling to find somewhere to live.
On that note, we look at the pro’s and con’s of keeping pets in privately rented accommodation, and our top tips to landlords considering renting to pet owners.
If you scroll through the countless number of discussion threads on this topic you are more than likely to see heart-wrenching tales of tenants unable to find a landlord that will accept their pet. But why are landlords so reluctant to open their property doors to pets?
DAMAGE: 99% of the time your everyday tenant isn’t going to take a bite out of the sofa, or treat the doorframe as a scratching post, however allowing a pet into the property drastically increases the chance of this happening. The cost from any damage caused during a tenancy by a pet, is of course claimable back from the deposit, it can still be very frustrating to deal with.
CLEANLINESS: More paws has got to equal more dirt. And aside from the hair shedding, and partiality to bad smells, pets often get pinned with a bad reputation in terms of cleanliness. Animal hair and smells are notoriously hard to shift, and this could put potential future tenants off.
NUISANCE NEIGHBOUR: Dogs bark, cat’s meow, birds squawk. Pet noise can become a problem if it is incessant, along with pet mess. No one wants to step outside of their front door to find a ‘gift’ left by the neighbour’s cat. In very rare cases pets can become aggressive, , which not only puts neighbours in danger but the pets themselves.
MULTIPLICATION: You start by giving the green light for one pet to live in the property and the next time you visit you may as well have gone for a nice day out at the local zoo. We’ve all heard the horror stories - allowing 1 pet leads to 5 more being sneaked in through the back door.
We are a nation of pet lovers, and there are many reported health benefits of owning a pet including fighting stress and anxiety, keeping us active and they’re even good for our immune system (3). So, with that in mind lets delve into the benefits of allowing pets to live by our tenants’ side.
TOO MUCH CHOICE: As stated earlier, a large proportion of people both want to rent private accommodation, but also have a pet, therefore if you’re a landlord that accepts pets in a pool full of those that don’t you are broadening your circle of potential tenants to choose from. And is that ever a bad thing? This will also mean quick tenancy turn, reducing periods without tenants.
LONGER TENANCIES: With so few of them around, being a landlord that accepts pets makes you highly desirable and means tenants will want to stay in your property for longer. This in turn leads to rental income security and happy tenants.
RESPONSIBLE OWNERS: Tenants with pets tend to be more responsible than those without. This is of course a very broad, sweeping statement, but you often find tenants are so grateful that they have found somewhere that accepts pets that they will treat the home in a much more respectful way.
SECURITY: Dogs are the most common type of pet (1) and are also a great form of security. Spike may be the friendliest dog on the planet, with the biggest threat he poses is a good face licking, but if you’re a burglar are you going to take your chances with Spike or the dog free home?
AQUARIUS HOMES TOP TIPS
Here in the office we are all pet owners, so when a property is suitable, we do suggest to our landlords the benefits of accepting pets. Through our experience pets do not cause a greater problem in tenancies and are often exemplary tenants. We do however, put some measures in place to try and ensure that this happens.
TAKE A HIGHER DEPOSIT: Arguably a pet brings more risk of damage to a property. We tend to take approximately 2 extra weeks rent on top of our normal deposit to ensure peace of mind for the landlord. If no damage is done to the property, the tenant gets the full amount back at the end of their tenancy anyway, so everybody wins.
LOOK AT THE OWNERS: Everyone has heard the age old saying that pets portray their owners, but its true. If the owners are responsible the pets will be well looked after and well behaved. We make sure that any property that allows pets are suitable for that type of pet (e.g. garden for a dog) and that the tenants lifestyle means that the pet will be well looked after (e.g. a dog not left on its own all day if tenants work full time).
PET REFERENCE: If you decide to be a pet-friendly landlord this does not mean you are obliged to accept any pet. You can judge it on a case by case basis by asking for a pet reference. This acts as a normal tenant reference does and allows you to ask the questions you would like to know on whether this pet is right for your property.
A GOOD INVENTORY: This tip is true for any tenancy, not just ones that involve pets, but a good inventory means watertight evidence at the end of a tenancy and therefore reduced stress!
PET POLICY: For any of our properties with pets in them we edit our AST to reflect this. We add clauses to ensure the property and the pet are treated correctly. For example - the pet needs to be vaccinated and kept treated for fleas and worms, all faeces must be cleaned up every day and disposed of hygienically, a professional clean, including carpets, must be done at the end of the tenancy and pets must not cause a nuisance to any neighbours.
If you are thinking about renting out your property and need advice get in contact today and we can talk you through our vast experience of letting properties to pets. Alternatively, if you are a tenant and need to find somewhere pet-friendly to live, let us know and hopefully we will be able to find a happy home for you and your furry/scaly/feathery friend.
(1) (1) Statista. 2018. Leading pets, ranked by household ownership in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2017/18. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/308218/leading-ten-pets-ranked-by-household-ownership-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/. [Accessed 27 June 2018].
(2) (2) The Guardian. 2018. Quarter of Households in UK will Rent Privately by end of 2021, says Report. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jun/12/one-in-four-households-in-britain-will-rent-privately-by-end-of-2021-says-report. [Accessed 27 June 2018].
(3) (3) Real Simple. 2018. 5 Healthy Reasons You Need a Pet In Your Life. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/pets/health-benefits-pets. [Accessed 27 June 2018].