Should tenants be allowed to keep pets?
by Rizwan Osman on 2nd November 2020
Britain is a notoriously pet-loving nation, around 40% of households have one. However, when it comes to buy-to-let landlords only a few embrace the idea of a pet in their property.
The reasons are understandable. By pets, we are mainly talking about dogs and cats. Dogs, in particular, can be noisy, smelly and destructive. Add to that the possibility of flea infestations and the risk may not seem worth it. Clauses disallowing pets are often written into tenancy agreements as a default.
But is always prohibiting pets a good idea? Would it not be more cost-effective sometimes to let to tenants with pets?
If you’re a landlord wondering whether to include a no-pets clause in your tenancy agreement or considering a request from a prospective tenant with a cat or dog, here are some pros and cons to help you decide. We have also included a few tips for welcoming pets to your property in case you decide to say ‘yes’ to pets.
With only about 4% of London landlords openly allowing pets in their properties why should you go against the tide? Here are some of the upsides of allowing pet owners to rent from you:
1. You will attract more prospective tenants
People love their cats and dogs, and some will have one already, so allowing pets can boost interest in your rental property and widen your pool of prospective tenants.
2. Rent your property quicker
A pet-friendly property is likely to let out quicker than one which isn’t. This means less chance of facing a dreaded void period.
3. Your tenants might stay for longer
With only a minority of landlords accepting pets, your tenants will have a big incentive to stay in your property, reducing the likelihood of void periods.
4. You can up the rent
Scarcity of suitable properties means you’re offering something over and above the competition, so you may be able to reflect this in the rent you charge.
5. Your tenants are more likely to look after your property
Tenants with pets are generally more stable and responsible and so more likely to respect your property. They will also be really grateful that you have allowed their furry friend and will pay you back by looking after your property.
With all these positive reasons why do the majority of landlords not allow pets? Here are some reasons you may think again about pets in your property:
1. Damage to your property
There is no denying that cats and dogs can be destructive to furniture and flooring. Of course, it’s possible to claim this back on the deposit but this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process if your departing tenants don’t agree with your claim.
2. Extra post tenancy cleaning
Even well looked after pets can be smelly – though getting pet owners to admit to this is difficult as they are often immune to their pooch’s perfume. The smell can be difficult to shift and could potentially put off future tenants. Add to this animal hair which is difficult to remove from upholstery and carpets. Also, once a pet has been kept in the property, it may be difficult to rent it out to people with allergies.
3. Flea infestations
Animals can carry fleas and mites, which can infest your furniture and carpets.
4. Pets can cause a nuisance to neighbours
Dogs that are noisy or badly behaved can cause a nuisance to neighbours. An aggressive dog may make communicating with your tenant difficult and even prevent you inspecting the property.
Tips for welcoming pets to your rental property
If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of allowing pets and decided to go ahead, these are some of the things to think about:
1. Don’t just say ‘Yes’
Always put ‘pets considered’ in your listing rather than ‘pets allowed’, it leaves the final decision in your hands. Think about what type of pet you’d be comfortable with and whether it is practical in the space, a hamster in a studio flat is quite a different prospect from a great Dane. Take into consideration the life-style of the tenants, if they work full time and the animal will be left alone in your property all day this could have an adverse effect on the pet’s behaviour.
2. Check your leasehold agreement
If your property is leasehold, check your lease to make sure that pets are permitted.
3. Meet the pet
Ask to visit your prospective tenants in their current home to meet the pet. This will allow you to judge its behaviour, cleanliness and the effect it will have on your property. You can also ask to see copies of the pets vets records so that you are assured the animal is properly looked after an up to date on flea treatments.
4. Have a watertight inventory
It’s even more important to be meticulous in drawing up your inventory and taking photos of the condition of furniture and fittings, so you are covered for any damage.
You can remove the stress of this by letting your property through a reputable estate and letting agent, such as Credential. We will prepare a professional inventory and conduct an impartial check before the tenant moves in and after they leave.
5. Add a pet clause to your tenancy agreement
Don’t just simply add a clause in your tenancy agreement which says that pets are permitted in your property. Make your pet clause specific to the individual pet you have agreed to set out the rules regarding the animal. Ensure that your tenant understands what they are signing up to. A good estate and letting agent will be able to do this for you.
6. Take an additional deposit, if you can
The Tenant Fees Act caps deposits at five weeks’ rent, for properties with an annual rent below £50,000, or six weeks rent is the annual rent is above this amount.
If you are not already doing so, we would recommend that you request the maximum deposit permitted for your property.
Contact the team at Credential for advice on ensuring you are compliant with the latest tenancy fee regulations.
7. Regularly inspect your property
Regular inspections of the property are important, remember to give at least 24 hours’ notice.
8. Inform your insurance company
You may need to inform your insurers that you’re letting the property to a tenant with pets – contact them for advice first.
Potential legislation changes
A bill has been introduced in parliament that would ban letting agents and landlords from rejecting tenants who want to live with their pets following a petition on the issue which gained more than 2,000 votes. The bill goes for its second reading in January, if it wins government backing it will become law. Read more on the Negotiator website.
We can help
If you have a property to let, contact us for advice on any aspect of being a landlord and to find out how we can help.