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.
- Never assume that everything an estate agent says is 100% correct. Do not feel pressured into agreeing a deal. Stand you ground, even if you are afraid of losing a rental that will allow pets. If the walls are marked, ask for them to e touched up or the carpet cleaned. Don’t feel that as a pet owner you are a ‘second class citizen’.
- Remember an estate agent represents the landlord and the seller. You pull out they just find another buyer or tenant. You proceed and there is a big issue, you are the one who is incurring the costs. Do your homework.
- If you have a doubt, double-check. What an expensive mistake if you buy a flat, move in and the concierge says sorry no dogs allowed.
Have everything in writing when making a rental offer
- A verbal agreement with an estate agent or landlord is not enough.
- Clarify all special conditions. Make sure your pets are listed in the pets clause by name and breed. State that you would like any damage to the walls or carpets touched up or cleaned. If the garden is overgrown, have it cleaned up before you move.
- Remember, some landlords will only go on what is agreed. The previous tenant may move out and scuff the walls with their suitcases or marks are left by paintings etc. Because you have not specified any works, the landlord can easily say no to doing any works that were not listed in the original offer.
Why renting in London with a dog can be extra complicated?
At Pets Lets, we specialise in finding pet friendly rentals for clients. We come across all kinds of complications when negotiating on behalf of our pet owning clients.
With a recent North London client, we agreed the property. The landlord was happy to allow 2 small dogs. We provided all the information including a pet cv as well as a landlord reference stating their dogs were well behaved and never caused any damage. All was fine until we ‘dug a little deeper’ into the property. The small rear garden ran across the houses and was classed as communal. Upon asking further questions, it turned out, the dogs were allowed inside but not outside. How do you enforce that? You open the reception door to go into the garden and the dogs ‘slip’ past you onto the grass.
In this case the management company had a no pets policy for the communal parts outside. The client had to take a view as the property was ideally located for them and within a two-minute walk to a major London Park.
In a competitive London rental market, renting with a dog or cat is not as appealing to a landlord
You have to remember that you are competing against people without pets. Against young professionals who are appealing to landlords as they are seen to create less wear and tear on the property.
Landlords still see pets as the biggest cause of damage to a rental property. You read stories from landlords on Facebook groups. Some landlords will not consider pets on a case by case basis. You should not say no renting with dogs in London full stop.
Where landlords must consider pets on a case-by-case basis
The one tenant has a small dog that sleeps most of the day, compared to another who has a large dog or another person who has multiple pets.
The tenants have proof of funds, great references and are shown to be responsible. They also work from home so the dog is not home alone.
As a landlord, I would pick a tenant renting with a dog over sharers. From my own experience, people renting with a dog in London are so happy to find a lovely property, that they go that ‘extra mile’ to look after it and stay longer.
Something landlords should consider when considering renting to someone with a dog. Don’t just say no, ask for more information.
This article was written by Russell Hunt, Founder of Pets Lets, a UK pet-friendly property portal offering properties where landlords consider pets as well as a pet friendly relocation and buying service. Prior to setting up Pets Lets, Russell was a London property search consultant for over 20 years for clients looking to buy and rent in the Capital.
For useful advice or to find out more about the UK pet friendly rental market, feel free to join our Pets and Property Tips Facebook Group for helpful professional advice on pets and property.