30.01.2021 12:36 pm

As the Founder of Pets Lets, a Pet Friendly Property Portal, a landlord and pet owner, as well as a property search agent for over 20 years, I have a lot of experience dealing with landlords and agents.

Just like pet owners, landlords are also passionate about this topic. Landlords do not like being told what to do. That is the nature of the sector. There are solutions and it is about how you approach it. I will post a list of tips on communicating with and understanding landlords to help.

When you call an agent, a manging agent, developer, or landlord direct, the response varies. It depends when you mention the word pet in your conversation, at the beginning, middle or right at the end. That is when you will know if they can help you find a pet friendly rental.

Why are so few properties pet friendly?

Only 7% of UK landlords are pet friendly according to government statistics. This will vary depending on the areas across the UK. An astonishing figure when 50% of the UK population owns a pet.

  • Regardless of whether a landlord will allow pets or not, many blocks of all sizes have no-pets clauses. London is full of mansion blocks with antiquated leases which are behind the times and need to be modernised. ‘A can of worms’, many managing agents and freeholders prefer not to open. You can own the property and yet you are not allowed to have a cat or dog on the premises. You will not be able to get a tenancy agreement and if you do, you could still be evicted by the freeholder or the manging agents acting on their behalf. All it takes is for a neighbour to complain.

    Are there more properties that allow pets on the market?

  • This is changing with newer build developments. All properties listed by Fizzy Living are pet friendly properties. Another company is Essential Living which offers a range of pet friendly living in their properties.

There is also a new New Standard Tenancy Agreement that has been introduced by the Government regarding the rights of tenants renting with pets in the UK. However, this is a model to follow and is not enforced. Landlords can still find reasons to say no. It will take time to change. Dog and cat owners have to also be responsible as it takes on to give pets a bad reputation with property owners.

Overall this is great news and certainly in the right direction. I don’t believe things will change overnight. There are a lot of landlords who have had bad experiences with pet owners. Some will exercise Certificates of Exemption based on for example health or religious reasons.

Listening to Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 Show yesterday on which Andrew Rosindell MP who’s campaign A Pet in Every Home has been campaigning in parliament to overturn a landlords ability to flatly refuse pets, the show also pointed out that landlords have had to already endure many restrictive changes, including making it harder to evict tenants, inability to offset mortgages against tax as well as additional fees. To some this will be another ‘bitter pill to swallow’.

However, some landlords will look for ‘loopholes’ with some already charging extra ‘pet rents’.

Potential obstacles landlords may implement:

• If there are competitive bids, accept the tenancy without the pet • Exercise Certificate of Exemption • Charge an extra pet rent • Prohibitive head leases particularly in blocks

Just like pet owners, landlords are also passionate about this topic. Landlords do not like being told what to do. That is the nature of the sector. There are Property and pets are passionate topics. Landlords are looking to protect their investments and pet owners love their pets. Bringing the two together will create a bit of ‘friction’.

The only way forward is to ‘remove’ the passion and discuss the pros and cons of pet friendly rentals to both landlords and dog and cat owners.

Nearly 30% of tenants with pets have not informed their landlord. Many people, particularly over covid lockdown, adopted a cat or dog, and for many ‘out of fear of being evicted’ have not mentioned it to their landlord. Some tenants living with cats or dogs, do not realise it is an issue as they don’t see their landlords. However, all it takes is for a neighbour to complain and suddenly there is a knock at the door.

##Why are pets a concern to landlords?

  • Damage such as cats scratching carpets, dogs chewing furniture

  • Potential smell left in a property and affecting other tenants with allergies

  • Late night barking and upsetting neighbours

  • Previous bad experience. Just takes one irresponsible pet owner

  • The property is an investment/ pension to be protected. Ideal tenant, one that is hardly there so minimal wear and tear

  • Increased tenant protection during covid by the Government. More difficult to evict tenants if it goes wrong

  • 2019 Tenant Fees Act capped deposits to five weeks rent. Not seen as enough to cover potential damage by pets

##What are the potential solutions for tenants with pets?

Open 'communications’ with the landlord. Whatever your feelings about pets & rentals, 'leave them behind.'

  • Have a Pet CV to hand with a cute image of your pet(s) plus reference from a previous landlord or a pet professional such as a vet

  • Landlords prefer at a least 1 year tenancy. Anything less is not worth it with a pet(s). Consider 2 years and offer a 1 year break clause as a goodwill gesture

  • Affordability is a real issue with references. Harder with overseas tenants. If you can, offer 3-6 months rent up front and have the ability to show proof of funds

  • Offer a deep clean at the end of a tenancy

  • Suggest meeting the landlord with your dog(s)

A summary of pet friendly rentals in the UK

Property is all about supply versus demand, whether it be lettings or sales. It is quite clear that the demand of pet owners versus supply far outweighs supply of pet friendly accommodation. Many landlords are investors. Time is money for them. Would you rather have a vacant property or re-consider a pet. Landlords can specify a small dog or cat. They have to realise if they ‘close their doors’ to people with pets, they will merely lose out to other landlords in the area who are more open-minded.

Many agents also must be more willing to convince their clients that they should consider pets. Things change and agents and landlords must adapt to a changing market or lose out. The rental market has changed and there are more properties for tenants to choose from.

Please join our [Pets and Property Tips Facebook Group] (https://www.facebook.com/groups/petsandpropertytips) for more professional advice.