‘No pets allowed’, ‘Pets not accepted’, ‘No dogs or cats’. These are all common phrases included in adverts for properties to let. But should landlords reconsider their position on rejecting tenants with pets?
Research from Dogs Trust found that 78% of pet owners experienced difficulties in finding a rental property that allowed pets and 1 in 3 pet owners could not find a suitable property. Many landlords refuse pets because of the potential damage that can be caused- ripped carpets, scratched wooden floors, curtains in shreds. But with Dogs Trust research showing that 47% of landlords didn’t give a reason for banning pets (and 10% even banning goldfish!), is damage the main concern or are we simply used to banning pets as an industry wide agreement? With 14% of tenants keeping pets without their landlord’s permission anyway, should we find a new way to approach this?
With PwC research showing that there were 5.4 million households privately renting in 2015 (a figure which is set to increase to 7.2 million by 2025)- renting is becoming the norm for many individuals unable to get on the property ladder or enjoying the flexibility of renting. Many tenants are also renting long term, families and over 50’s are likely to stay longer and want to make their rental property a home rather than a stop gap. If landlords can be open-minded to reasonable changes to décor to help a tenant feel at home and stay longer, can they also accept well-behaved pets?
Tenants with pets take up to 7 times longer to find a suitable rental property. This means that pet owners may be more likely to stay in a property longer, reducing your void periods, because of the issues they face when moving. Also appreciating the fact they have found a suitable property that accepts their furry little friend, they could be more likely to keep up-to-date with rent payments and maintain the property well. Finally, and something which could grab the attention of the most anti-pet landlord, our own research shows that 24% of tenants would be willing to pay a higher rent to keep pets in a property.
Accepting pets in your rental property shouldn’t come without caveats- make sure to take a higher deposit than usual to cover yourself for any damage at the end of the tenancy and ask for information about the pet from a vet. And ensure you get thorough inventory check in and check out reports to prove any damage caused. You could also come to an agreement with the tenants that they will arrange for the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy. LetwithPets offers fantastic advice on protecting your investment if you do decide to allow pets- they offer free information on pet clauses, pet references and pet deposits.
If you’re still steadfast in your resolution not to accept a tenant’s furry companion in your rental property, remember to word your tenancy agreement correctly in order to enforce this. Simply stating ‘No pets’ would not constitute a fair and reasonable clause by OFT standards- try using ‘No pets allowed without the landlord’s express written consent, which will not be unreasonably withheld’.