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.
Why tenants with pets and or children are at a disadvantage
It is all about damage, odours and hair left behind by pets affecting future tenants with allergies, as well as disturbances to neighbours with late night barking. These are all the stereotypical excuses.
It is about the potential hassle. What if a child paints the walls or leaves marks? What if the cat scratches the carpets and the dog chews the furniture?
Landlords do not ask tenants if they will be having parties and how often do they entertain? That is also a time for potential damage. Maybe that is something landlords will be asking; how often do you plan to be at the property, or do you travel a lot for work?
What is a landlord’s perfect tenant?
The perfect tenant is someone who is hardly ever there and pays the rent on time. No need when they leave to refurbish the property. The next tenant can move straight in. Not so easy with a family or people renting with a dog. When they move out, more likely money will need to be spent to freshen the place up.
All about the money
When you look at it in a very simplistic way, it is all about maximising the return on investment. Keep costs down and you don’t want any empty periods. With most landlords’ pets & property do not make a great combination when it comes to returns on investments.
The 2019 Tenant Fees Act created a greater barrier between landlords and agents and people looking to rent with pets. Only 5 weeks deposit was not seen as enough to cover potential damage. The last thing landlords want to be is potentially ‘out of pocket’. Agents became concerned about asking landlords if they would consider pets for fear of losing the instruction. A no win scenario for pet owners thanks to an ill thought out Act by the Government.
Overcoming Landlords and Agents negative perceptions of renting to people with cats and dogs
What I will say is that markets change. Newer build to rent schemes are more pet friendly and are catering for pet owners. Long term, markets change; supply versus demand. When supply outstrips demand, agents and landlords will not be able to ignore the pet friendly rental market or their property will remain vacant for longer and they will lose money.
Agents will learn to be more proactive rather than reactive. They won’t able to pick and choose who to call or which email to respond to. Having been an agent many years back in more difficult markets, you could argue that the ‘hard sell’ of a rental or a sales property is an art that has not been required for some time. At the moment, an agent will turn round to you and say ”If you don’t take it, someone else will.”
Pet friendliness in rental properties is a hot topic and it is a bandwagon that many agencies are ‘jumping’ on. However, has it really changed the attitudes of the agencies to people renting with pets? Many people renting with pets in the UK, still find it difficult with estate agents. As soon as the word ‘pet’ is mentioned, attitudes do change. The interest fades as you are now a ‘trickier’ applicant and time is money.
Have sourced properties for clients for many years, we sympathise on how difficult it is to rent with a dog or cat in London as well as across the UK. That is why we set up the Pets and Property Tips Facebook Group to offer helpful advice on pets and property. Also a group where fellow pet owners can help each other on the tricky topic of renting with pets. Something which does not make any sense bearing in mind 50% of the UK population has a pet.
Lets with pets is not niche. Everywhere you go there are adverts with dogs and cats. Pets now ‘mirror’ children. Dogs are groomed and spoilt with toys and treats. There was even a prize for the best dressed dog in our jubilee weekend street party. That says it all.
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. We specialise in pet friendly rentals. We have seen it all.
Renting and indeed buying with a pet is not easy. Leasehold properties and a share of freehold are not always straightforward. If you can, go for freehold where you own the property and the land it is on. Then your ‘fur baby’ can walk through the door and you truly own the place.