The private rental market is set to grow to 22% by 2023. Rising property prices, difficulties saving for a mortgage deposit as well as stringent mortgage criteria, have already been forcing many to rent.
The focus has moved away from the ‘obsession’ with bricks & mortar and having a mortgage, to renting, seeing your friends, as well as being able to travel. Build to Rents (BTR’s) are changing the face of the rental landscape in the UK. Good news for pet owners is that 47% of build to rent (BTR) developments are stating they are pet friendly.
With the Government having recently Said No to Changes on the Tenant Fees Act, BTR’s may offer a quicker solution whilst the Government revaluates the renting with pets sector in the UK. Fingers crossed, one day in the near future, they will amend legislation on renting with pets.
I have always thought that pressure on private landlords rather than forcing more legislation on them, is the key to making them adapt and allow pets in the rental properties. I even come across dog owners, who love pets, sympathise with the lack of pet friendly properties, yet when it comes to their own rental portfolio, say no to pets. Money unfortunately talks. BTR’s will ‘hurt the landlords purse strings’. That is the way to force landlords to re-consider allowing pets.
BTR’s see renting with pets as a huge sector. By 2025 it is forecasted that 52% of millennials and generation z will be pet owners. The core target markets. Something BTR’s as well as private landlords cannot ignore.
We have seen many companies such as Blockbuster and HMV unable to adapt and cease to exist. The same can be said for private landlords; adapt and consider pets or lose out, have months with a vacant property which will lead to a fall in rental yields. Properties that are currently under construction have increased from 34,744 to 36,415 units – a rise of 5%. Unlike many private landlords, Build to Rent providers often manage the whole building, purpose-built for renting, and seek to prioritise a high level of service, property management and the building of a community where people are happy with or without pets.
They have listened to their target audiences, from allowing pets, to a concierge, inclusion of utilities and broadband in the rental prices as well as the creation of social and working communities. This is compared to closing the door to your flat, not knowing anyone and paying a high rent to a private landlord you never see..oh yes and you are not allowed to adopt that puppy you always wanted due to the buildings no pet clause. You can understand the appeal of the pet friendly build to rent alternative.
In 2018 alone, £2.6 billion was invested, up 11% on the year before. That growth was supported by major institutions such as Greystar, M&G Investments, Legal & General and a number of private equity firms, and the forecasts suggest that growth is here to stay.
Lloyds Bank are investing in BTR’s through their off shoot company, Citra Living with plans to build 5000 new homes. A large percentage will no doubt be pet friendly.
The question is can landlords actually refuse pets and what are the rules and regulations. This interesting guide from My Urban Jungle offers an up to date guide on renting with pets in the UK.
The Movers & Shakers in BTR
This article in Property Investor Today points out some of the big corporate names investing in the sector, such as Goldman Sachs, Legal & General and Invesco. This is on the ‘tip of the iceberg’. People don’t want the hassle of sorting out their utilities and broadband and being tied into long contracts.
The principle is the same as a gym; you have signed up for a year, have hardly been and what a waste of money. Then come along flexible contracts. No brainer. The same is for BTR’s.
At Fizzy Living, for example, you are signed up for 4 months, then just give 2 months’ notice on a rolling contract. Make your stay as long or as short as you wish. With younger professionals moving jobs, having to relocate or moving in with a partner, makes perfect sense. It is a case of adapting to modern day life. A pet is always welcome to the family too. Unlike the private pet unfriendly landlords.
Post Lockdown Rental Trends
This article by Zoopla Research about post lockdown trends is right about some points and not about others. Agreed, people have been re-evaluating their lives, moving away from work hubs, wanting more space including some form of outside space like a patio or garden, particularly if you are renting with a dog or cat. On the other hand, London has done the opposite and ‘stock levels’ are so low. Talking to some estate agents they are down to their last few properties. Another said to me, this flat will be gone in a day or two at most.
I was out with a Relocation Client looking for a cat friendly rental. We found a great West London property; the client considered it overnight, only to find it was gone the next morning. There is no time to think it over, be decisive, especially if you find a pet friendly landlord.
Why Build to Rents Will Stay v Traditional Renting
Here are the key positive points of BTR’s compared to the traditional rentals
- Flexible contracts v tied a long-term contract
- Broadband & utilities are included. Simple v complications of setting it all up and being tied into a broadband contract with hefty fine if you leave early.
- Communal areas for work and play v sitting on your own
- No issue if you decide to get a pet v you might get evicted
- BTR’s are managed in-house v outsourced & mostly less reliable
- Meet people v again on your own
- Events, gyms, yoga or doga all on site v nothing
- Finally, BTR’s offer a positive vibe v many private rentals which can be more downbeat.
How Can Private Landlords Compete?
- Listen to your target markets and consider tenants with pets. Or if a tenant wants to adopt a pet mid tenancy, consider it, especially if they have been looking after the property.
- Maybe the future is that private landlords include broadband in the rent and potentially utilities.
- More landlords are considering 6-month break clauses. Good to offer more flexibility.
- Be competitive on rental prices. Too many landlords tell the estate agencies what they want to achieve. Some landlords are unrealistic with pricing and too many estate agents say yes to get the instruction.
- Landlords need to listen more to the agents; if they say consider being a pet friendly rental, then do so. If the advice is to decorate, then consider it, rather than trying to save money leaving it as it is.
- BTR’s are offering more appealing choices. You need to compete with that.
- Yes, the current market is competitive and there are many tenants chasing few properties. That will change. Supply will in time outstrip demand and then what?
- BTR’s tend to be bigger blocks. Some people like to be more private and not like in big communities. However, other private landlords will adapt and allow pets, include bills, refresh the décor on a regular basis and so on to attract the tenants. If you do’t change you will lose out to the local competition.
Covid and lockdown has changed the way we all live. We have been able to take a step back and consider everything. Workplaces are no longer a 5 day a week commute. Many companies are now more flexible, with some people required in the office 2-3 days a week or not at all. Technology with zoom calls, has proven the ability to connect remotely with each other. Lockdowns has rapidly advanced technology in the workplace out of necessity. Something that would have happened, but gradually over a few years. We spend more time at home. We can shop from home. Therefore, we are at home more with our pets, so they are not left alone as much and can get regular exercise. Times change. We have and are still experiencing a worldwide pandemic. This is going to naturally change everyday life.
According to The Kennel Club, 2 in 5 people in the UK bought a puppy over lockdown, which have transformed their lives and brought happiness to millions. Pets are part of the family. They are like our ‘children’. You would not move home without them and should not be expected to. Landlords adapt and consider pets, or you will lose out to the rise of the BTR’s.
I, Russell Hunt, wrote this article, as the Founder of Pets Lets, a UK pet friendly property portal as well as offering clients a Relocation Service. Having represented property clients looking to buy, sell, rent for over 25 years you see it all. Having grown up in London and adopted three dogs from people whose landlords said no, is a huge wake up call to how little landlords have changed over the years.
There is still a ‘blanket’ no to pets and still many large buildings have no pets clauses. Hence the emergence of Pets Lets.
At Pets Lets we are so passionate about renting with pets, that we set up the Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group to offer fellow pet owners advice about the UK pet friendly rental market.