Pets In Rental Properties

Mon 31 Oct 2016

The British are known to be a nation of pet lovers, but pets can be a tempestuous subject when it comes to rental properties. We are often asked by both Landlords and Tenants how having a pet in a property makes a difference. Well, let’s see:

From a Tenants’ point of view, moving without your furry friend can be a heart-breaking decision, and many Tenants will not move unless their pet is allowed too. But not all Landlords are as keen on animals as you may be, and it can be hard to find a new home with a pet in tow. Some Landlords may be averse to certain types of pet, for example I have known a Landlord who was happy for his Tenants to keep a cat or small dog, but did not like snakes. Usually pets in cages (such as a rabbit or small bird) cause less of a concern than an animal such as a cat, small dogs can be controversial, with large dogs being the type of pet Landlords are most against living in their property.

You should always obtain written consent from your Landlord before getting a pet, and should you wish to move be clear, and honest, from the start as to what sort of pet you have and how many. I have known Tenants to get a pet without their Landlord’s knowledge, and when discovered, this has caused friction in the Landlord – Tenant relationship, with one Landlord even terminating the tenancy.

Many Landlords are against the idea of a pet for several reasons. How will it behave? Will it damage the property? If so who pays for it? Will it smell? Would it put off future Tenants? What about whilst the Tenants are at work? Will the neighbours complain? Quite simply, there are a lot of concerns raised.

In our experience, most Tenants tend to treat their pets as a member of the family, and have well behaved, well looked after pets, although it is worth mentioning there can always be the exception. We would recommend for Landlords considering permitting their Tenants to keep a pet to ask for a higher damage deposit on the property. This will mean that should the pet chew carpets, scratch furniture or have the odd accident that leaves a stain there is additional money to cover this. The same can be used in case there is the unfortunate issue of a flea infestation. Most Tenants will readily agree to this as it means they will be able to keep their beloved pet in the property. I have known higher damage deposits to be taken to protect the Landlord against pet damage, but must say, thankfully I have never known it to be necessary.

You should give any permission to keep a pet in writing, but be specific, giving the type and number of the pets, and confirm that it would be the Tenant’s responsibility to put right any damage caused by this animal. Also be aware of any restrictions on the building, as if you own a leasehold property, the Freeholder may have applied restrictions banning pets.

Finally, should there be any doubt as to whether a new Tenant’s pet should be allowed in the property, ask your agent to speak with the Tenant’s previous Landlord to see if they have had any issues with this particular animal, or alternatively, why not meet the animal in person (or send a representative) to see how well behaved the animal is in its current home? Keeping pets in a rental property will always be a concern for both Landlords and Tenants, but with proper consideration, the best outcome can be achieved for all parties.