We are often asked by landlords whether they should allow pets in property they are letting out. The answer is unfortunately, “it depends”. Not very helpful we know. However, we do provide some guidance below to assist landlords in making an informed decision about whether to permit a tenant to keep a pet.
At the end of the day, we Brits are certainly pet lovers, with almost half the population now owning a pet of some sort. In contrast, on average across the country, under 10% of properties are advertised as available for rent with a pet. That’s a big disparity in demand and supply, making it challenging for renters to find a home for their families and fury friends. Indeed, almost 80% of renters report problems in finding a suitable property. But, are landlords missing a trick by not offering their properties to tenants with pets?
It would appear that the Government would like more landlords to be accepting of pets, with proposals being considered for the introduction of a new model tenancy contract that encourages the accommodation of pets in rented property. Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, said: "Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people's lives, helping their owner's through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it's a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can't experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property”
While the Government might wish to encourage landlords to accept pets unless there is a good reason not to, they are unlikely to legislate that pets have to be allowed into rented property. In all probability, the choice will remain with the landlord, although they will likely have to show rational for the decision made.
So why are landlords generally hesitant to allow pets?
The primary concern that most landlords have is the damage that might be done to the property. Previously, many landlords would consider a pet if the tenant was willing to put down a higher deposit. However, Since the Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force, landlords and their letting agents are only able to take a deposit of up to five weeks rent. Without the protection of a higher deposit, landlords have generally become more cautious about granting permission.
In addition to property damage, landlords are frequently concerned that a pet could become a nuisance to neighbours. This is especially relevant in blocks of flats, where landlords are likely to have a lease covenant to not ‘create or allow a nuisance’. In such instance, a noisy or misbehaved pet could potentially put a landlord in breach of their lease. Also, when it comes to leasehold properties/flats, many blocks have rules that either prohibit the keeping of a pet, or only allow for a pet with the written permission of the block freeholder. In such instances, approval is not purely down to the landlord.
Why might it make sense to allow a pet?
There are a number of very good reasons for allowing a tenant to keep a pet, providing the pet and the property are both compatible.
- Firstly, by disallowing tenants with pets due to concerns over property damage, a landlord effectively closes off a significant proportion of the tenant market. It should be remembered that property damage and nuisance can easily be caused by an inconsiderate tenant without a pet. A better option might actually be to let to a more considerate and conscientious tenant that is also a pet owner.
- Secondly, notwithstanding that a larger deposit can no longer be taken for accepting a pet, many landlords are able to command a higher rent for accepting a pet and many tenants are willing to pay a premium.
- Thirdly, the data suggests that tenants with pets tend to stay longer in the property, presumably due to the challenges of finding an alternative.
In summary, providing that no damage is done to the property, then a stable long term tenant, receipt of a higher rent and reduced void periods all contribute to a better financial yield on the landlord’s investment.
A significant number of landlords are pet owners themselves and appreciate the pleasure that owning a pet can bring to a family. As a result, many are willing to grant permission providing they can be assured the pet is suitable for the property, is well behaved and well cared for.
If on balance, you think it makes sense to allow pets in a property you let, then there are some practical considerations in terms of what kind of pets to allow and the terms and conditions to be incorporated into the tenancy agreement to protect your position.
On a receipt of a request to keep a pet, consider the suitability of the property for the pet and vice versa. This is just common sense. A house on a main road, without a garden is unlikely to be a great choice for a cat or dog. Also, a small studio flat probably doesn’t make sense for a very large dog, but does make sense for a goldfish! If your property is leasehold, then check the conditions of the lease.
Try to ascertain whether the pet has been well looked after and is well behaved. Ways that you can do this are by requesting:
- References from previous landlords that the pet did not cause damage and was well behaved.
- Details of the pets training, age and breed.
- A summary of vaccinations and neutering.
- Details of how often and for how long the pet will be left alone at the property.
Once you are willing to accept a pet, to avoid disputes further down the line;
- Incorporate the consent and any associated terms and conditions into the tenancy agreement.
- Undertake a detailed inventory, including photographs of the condition of the property prior to the tenancy starting or the pet being obtained.
- Incorporate specific requirements for a deep clean of carpets or de-odourising carpets and furniture at the end of the tenancy.
With careful consideration of both the risks and benefits, allowing a pet into rented property can be a way of enhancing the financial performance of the investment for the landlord. At Aspire Residential, we have successfully placed many tenants with pets into rented property without any problems. The fact is that a disrespectful and inconsiderate tenant is not going to look after a property – without or with pet. It all comes down to effective tenant selection and the introduction of appropriate contractual safeguards.
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