Tenants with Pets – A Good Idea?
With over 4 million households living in privately rented properties and approximately 45% of the UK’s population owns a pet. Are you as a landlord missing out on potential tenants? Struggling to find a rental home that allows pets? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages of renting properties to pet owners.
Advantages of tenants with pets
- Increase opportunities of finding tenants. According to the Dogs Trust, 78% of pet owners experience difficulties in finding rented accommodation that accepts pets, and Pet Friendly Rentals say that you could be decreasing your market potential by 50% if you don’t accept pets.
- Tenants with pets that find suitable accommodation often make more of an effort to be exemplary in looking after the property – responsible pet owners often make responsible tenants.
- Dogs can add a layer of protection to the security of the property.
- Tenants with pets often stay longer in the property because it’s difficult to find properties that accept pets.
- It may not always be a dog or a cat that’s the pet; it could be fish, a reptile, budgies, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters – makes sense to find out what the pet is before you say no.
Disadvantages of tenants with pets
- Dogs and cats can be messy, sometimes destructive, if left alone for long periods or not looked after.
- Pets can disturb the neighbours’, i.e. dogs barking at unsocial hours. Landlords and tenants want to keep a good relationship with their neighbours’.
- Pets can leave a lingering odour and when the tenant moves out, there is a likelihood that the property may require a more thorough clean.
- If not regularly treated, pets can catch fleas and infest the property, and potentially cause allergies for future tenants.
Then there’s the law. Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, a blanket ban on keeping pets is considered unfair and recommend that a ‘No Pets’ clause isn’t included in the tenancy agreement. Instead amend to ‘landlord’s consent is required’ with regard to pets. The Disability Discrimination Act (2005) also has to be considered which prohibits anyone who is renting a property to discriminate against a disable person, including those with an assistance dog, e.g. guide dogs and hearing dogs. If the property you’re planning on letting is a leasehold or ‘share of the freehold’ property, you may find that under the terms of the Lease or a covenant on the title deeds could restrict or prohibit landlords from accepting tenants with pets.
Renting to a tenant with a pet
Before you make the decision to say no to a potential tenant with a pet, consider the following points:
- Find out the type of pet the tenant owns, ask questions about the pet and discuss. Every pet is different and the decision should be on a case-by-case basis.
- Ask for a written reference for the pet from a previous landlord or vet if possible to ensure the prospective tenant is responsible and the pet is well-behaved. The Dogs Trust suggests a Pet CV that includes basic details about the pet including name, age, sex, breed, general behavior and often a picture.
- If you give permission, include a pet policy clause in the standard tenancy agreement that refers specifically to the keeping of pets
- You could ask for a higher deposit to be held in a recognised deposit scheme and used to repair any damage, or carry out extra cleaning that may be required should the tenant leave the property.
- Ensure a full property inventory is carried out to clearly record the state of the property before the tenant and the pet moves in.
Renting a property with a pet
For prospective tenants with pets, be responsible and do your homework. Depending on what type of pet you have, there will be a range of questions asked so be upfront and honest. Consider the following:
- Draw up a CV for your pet – the Dogs Trust has a good template that you can use, and contact your vet/previous landlord to get references.
- Consider the property. Is it near a main road? Is there a park or space to walk your dog nearby? Is the property large enough for your pet? Is there a cat-flap and a logical place to keep a litter tray if required? Will any noise from your pet disturb the neighbours?
- Offer to introduce your pet to the potential landlord so that they can get an idea of the behavior of the animal.
- Ensure a pet ownership clause is included in your tenancy agreement and that a full inventory has been carried out detailing the state of the property before you move in.
At Elizabeth Hunt & Associates, we are often asked whether pets are allowed in a property by prospective tenants and we always discuss fully with the landlord on a case-by-case basis prior to any decision being taken. We are here to help and we do let properties to tenants with pets. Contact us today for more information.