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In January 2021, The UK Government released figures of only 7% of Landlords accepting pets. An incredible statistic considering there was a 120% increase in the number of UK pet owners over lockdown.
You don’t have to be good at maths to realise that the figures do not work with 7% of landlords saying yes to pets versus 50% of the population owning a pet. Over 3.2m pets were bought over lockdown according to an article from the BBC. That is a sharp increase in UK pet ownership, with little change in the pet friendly rental sector.
Bearing in mind a huge demand for renting with pets in the UK, it has taken until June 2022, for the UK Government to come up with a long awaited rental reform paper including lets with pets. This is great news and there is certainly a positivity that rental legislation surrounding pets is moving in the right direction. The proposed pet rental reform is all about:
Making it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
Whilst pet rental legislation is moving in the right direction, there is a still a lot of opposition from private landlords and portfolio property owners. Some have had bad experiences renting to people with pets and others have heard a lot of negativities. You only have to look at some of the landlord Facebook groups to see there is a lot of opposition; you see stories about cats scratching carpets and curtains and people not picking up after their dogs in private and communal patios and gardens.
Another simple option to placate landlords and convince them to accept pets is by increasing the deposit cap for pet owners from 5 weeks to say 8 weeks.
The deposit cap is something that landlords complain is a huge restriction in case a pet ‘damages’ a property. An ‘urban myth’ bearing in mind how we see many professional sharers ‘trash’ properties. So it makes sense to increase the deposit cap for people renting with a dog or cat. You can also ask pet owners to get insurance cover which is a suggestion of the latest rental reforms.
However, having spoken to estate agents and landlords about pet insurance being a solution, their concern is that people will pay the first month or two and then cancel their direct debits. By that time, they are in the property, what can a landlord do. The trouble with letting with pets and property owners, is that the ‘negative feelings’ towards each other are so ingrained, it takes time to educate.
For landlords their properties are their pensions/ investments; I have come across dog owners who sympathise with fellow pet owners and the difficulty in renting with dogs, yet they do not allow dogs in their own rental properties. A case of head over heart.
That is why the changes will take time. All the news is positive, but as pet owners who rent, we must make sure that the 1% of irresponsible pet owners who rent, change their ways as that is giving tenants with pets a ‘bad name’. From experience, more landlords are open to renting to people with cats and dogs in the UK. Some are prevented by the building head lease, some are happy to give it a go with a small dog or a house cat, depending on the tenant profile and length of tenancy.
The positive signs are certainly there. Landlords realise that renting with pets is a huge market. More estate agents are suggesting to their clients that they consider pets, Chesterton’s has its own separate pet friendly listings page. That is also a good sign as some agencies were too ‘afraid’ to suggest people with pets as tenants, for fear of losing the property instruction. That is changing.
Market conditions also influence renting with pets
Lettings and sales markets are influenced by supply versus demand. Landlords are more likely to chose a tenant without a pet if the offers are very similar. Sometimes, and we have experienced this at Pets Lets, where the pet cv has ‘won over’ the landlord:
”There were 3 other good offers on the table but the dog CV sold it to them- I quote ‘ the cutest thing that they have seen.” London estate agent, 2022
Whether you are relocating to the UK with or without a pet, renting a UK property can be complicated.
We are not just talking about the ‘red tape’ of visas and pet travel companies with the extra requirements of vaccinations. There is the other dilemma of I don’t want my pet to be put in hold, shall I fly to Paris instead of London? Something a lot of people ask about and like everything with relocating takes meticulous planning. There are companies that will pick you up with your pets from Paris and drive you through the Euro Tunnel, have a look at Pet Moves to find out more. A chauffeur service for you and your pet(s).
We are thinking solely about finding dog or cat friendly rentals in London or in other parts of the UK. Renting in a city with a pet is that bit more complicated, with London being the topmost complicated pets and property destination.
Sometimes even the landlord does not know if the building will allow a pet. They are happy to allow a pet and yet they have no idea the ‘head lease’ which are the building rules and regulations says no to pets. Yet, the neighbour has a dog, how can that be?
Simple reason is that nobody has objected, and concierge is not concerned. However, if you wanted to get pets clause (which is the part which legally allows you to rent with a pet), no estate agency could put that in the agreement.
Have a look at the Pets Lets pets & property tips page page which gives useful advice as well as examples of pet cv’s and landlord references etc.
Pets are people’s modern-day children. You read as well as hear the term ‘fur babies’. They are part of the family. It is all about lets with pets. People and their pets are inseparable.
I just spoke to a dog owner, who was ‘misled’ by a big an estate agency into signing a tenancy agreement without a pet’s clause. The first version of the tenancy agreement had a pet’s clause. When the tenant tried to get out of it, they argued that large costs would be incurred, so the tenant felt ‘forced’ to sign another version without the pet’s clause.
Whilst moving into their so called ‘London pet friendly property’, the landlord had no idea they had a dog. After a lengthy discussion, it has been agreed the tenant could stay until they found something asap.
The estate agency has subsequently called the tenant and said, ‘get out or get rid of the dog’. The fault clearly lies with the estate agency as they did not initially check that the property was dog friendly. When they discovered it did not allow pets, they still tried to hold the tenant to account.
There are an increasing number of lets with pets stories that we come across at Pets Lets of agencies plus landlords not double-checking the head lease and whether there is a no pets clause. Just because you see a dog in the reception, it does not mean dogs are allowed in the building. Sometimes a concierge will ‘turn a blind eye’. That is not the same as being legally allowed to rent with a dog or cat. A pets clause represents your ‘legal protection’.
This interesting article this week on the BBC website highlights the need for a CV for children and dogs The market is ‘crazy’. Properties are being rented in hours or a day or two.
This article ‘spells out’ that even tenants with children and pets are at a disadvantage with landlords. Some landlords see pets and children as causing damage to their property. It is ‘easy’ to say no to a pet. It is more difficult and not ‘politically correct’ to say the same about someone’s children. In fact, it would be seen as ‘wrong’ to question a child’s behaviour.
London property is complicated full stop. London pet friendly property is another matter. Renting with pets is another obstacle to overcome. Can you imagine buying a property, not fully owning it as it is leasehold, which prevents your dog or cat living in your own home. That would be a very costly mistake. Make sure when renting or buying as a pet owner that the ‘head lease’ is pet friendly. Never assume. Your pet is depending on you to provide their home.
As mentioned above, even buying a property with a pet can be difficult. Common sense says, I own the property, so therefore my dog or cat will live with me. Normally that is the case. If your property is leasehold or even share of freehold, yes you do own your apartment, but the building around and the common parts, come under a head lease, many of with in London still say no to pets.
You can be a landlord and be happy to make it a pet friendly rental. You agree an offer from someone who wishes to rent with their dog, only to come to the tenancy agreement to find out that the building will not allow pets. Yet, you have seen people in the building with dogs?
How can that be? Well, some concierges turn a ‘blind eye’, yet legally you cannot enforce your rights renting with a dog or cat. You are unable to insert a pet clause into a rental agreement, which means the management company would have the right to evict you.
There are stories of people buying a property in London, not even considering that this is an issue. Not something you would naturally consider raising with an estate agent or a solicitor.
The Dogs Trust Lets with Pets Scheme is also a useful source of information for pet owners as well as estate agents and landlords to understand the benefits of renting to people with dogs and cats. It offers a few useful tips when rentin with dogs about the need for a pet cv and a landlord reference stating your dogs or cats have been well behaved, caused no damage and you have paid the rent on time.
Buying or renting a London property ask if the property will allow pets?
You have to ask the questions. You cannot just assume that the estate agent or landlord knows 100% that pets are allowed in a property. Quite often you speak to pet owners, they have found a lovely dog friendly rental, only to find out further down the line that the building does not allow dogs. The property owner had no idea about a no pets clause in the building head lease. The estate agent just assumed the landlord knew all about dogs or cats being allowed.
The result being that the pet owner has wasted a lot of time and effort and has to start all over again to find a dog friendly rental. On the other hand, the agent will quickly find another tenant without a pet, so the landlord is also a ‘winner’. The same can be said for buying a pet friendly property. Before you commit to survey and solicitor costs, ask to check the head lease of the property. That will clearly state if there is or is not a no pets clause. Your solicitor can get a copy before starting the process.
London is generally a dog friendly city to live in. We have The Royal Parks, including Hyde Park, Regents Park & Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park, Bushy Park and Richmond Park. Few other major cities in the world have such open as well as central ‘green spaces’ for dogs to roam.
The Dogvine and The Londog are great websites to give dog owners an insight into the London dog world. Where you can go, meet other fellow dog owners, have a meal or shop with your dog as well as events going on in and out of the capital. Knowing where dogs are allowed in London is important. A tip is to look out for a dog bowl outside a shop.
Dog Furiendly is also a good source of dog friendly information in London as well as across the UK. Some of the large department stores are dog friendly such as Liberty’s on London’s Regent Street and The John Lewis Group as well as others including Selfridges, where you have to carry your dog. A little tricky if they are a heavier breed.
You can even find A Dog Cafe on London’s Kings Road. Of course, being a dog friendly cafe they have a dedicated menu of freshly prepared dishes for your dogs from beef Wellington to beef bone marrow broths. Humans also have their own separate menu. A friend of mine had a business meeting by chance, without dogs, and was impressed, by the dog menu and the overall experience.
Love My Human is also a modern pet boutique and luxury groomer. All about pet care, both grooming and having a sophisticated time out with your owner and friends. The website Wagit is also a great website for finding out more about where you can eat and drink with your dog in London, such as pubs, bars and cafes. A directory of great places to eat as well as a site where you can find London dog groomers. Always double-check dog friendly eateries as some will only let you sit outside with inside still saying no to dogs.
Change takes time. The same is true for dog friendly London. Great news this week is there is now Uber Pets. There is also the Addison Lee pet friendly taxi service. You need to be able to travel with your dog or cat. There is so much uncertainty with some Uber drivers saying yes and others no. You would not be 100% sure you could travel with your dog until you driver arrived. There is of course an extra charge.
The London Underground is dog friendly, actually one of the most dog friendly transport systems in the world. London busses are happy for you to ‘jump’ on and off with a dog too. Dog friendly London has a pawsome transport system.
At least there are more options with pet friendly transport. Renting a property with a dog or cat is still an issue in London. Many landlords are still against renting to responsible pet owners. With demand for rental properties in London still high, many landlords opt for people without pets. Also bear in mind, that with the lack of rental properties, some landlords are not renewing contracts and are opting to re-market the properties. Buying a pet friendly property with a dog or cat, can be equally difficult. More information below.