Renting with a dog in London and throughout the UK, should be simple. We are a dog loving nation. Pubs and cafes as well as department stores and boutiques say yes to dogs. The clue is outside the door, a water bowl, a refreshment before your owner walks in. Even my local pharmacy offers customers with dogs a large gravy bone. Funnily, it can get quite busy with dog’s owners. What a great marketing tool though! Dogs mirror children. There is a groomer, they have their own chic boutiques with accessories and outfits. There is ‘dog fashion’ and trends. You see vitamins for dogs advertised on the London underground and on the back of a bus. Dog chews and toys are a huge market and there are articles about the best chews and toys for your pups.
It is a well known fact that people, particularly the younger generations see their pets as substitute children. Makes sense. They greet you when you come through the door, demand little and offer love and affection and companionship for many. Having 3 teenagers and a dog, who is most happy to see you? Tough one, the wagging tail versus the ‘grunt’ and the demand for ‘snacks’. Trends are changing. People have a dog or cat first, a call to being a parent, before having a child. Pets are part of the family, so not having them live with you is ‘criminal’.
Pets in general, whether it is a dog, cat, guinea pig or rabbit, are great for the family and do help children’s development. Pets and mental health is another positives for dogs and cats. Stroking is proven to relax people and having a dog or cat or being visited by one, brings joy and companionship.
Yet with all these positives of having a pet, why is it so difficult to rent with a dog or cat? Yes there are the latest pet rental reforms, which have been suggested, yet there is a long way to go in the legislative process and our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has just resigned so all is in ‘limbo’ with the summer recess in 2 weeks.
Renting with a dog in London
Why is ‘man’s best friend’, so unwelcome by landlords across the Capital? When you ‘drill down’ to understand why renting with a dog in London or in the UK is so difficult it is about the ‘head’ ruling the ‘heart’. At Pets Lets, we come across dog owners who sympathise with the issues of renting with a dog, yet their own property portfolios say no to pets. They see property as an investment and with many landlords they see pets as creating ‘damage’. An outdated view, which needs to change. Reforms are required to an outdated property market with no pet’s head leases, which were written when hardly anyone had a dog or cat. Now 52% of the UK population owns a pet.
Supply versus demand
Property stocks are low and there are currently lots of people looking. Agents and landlords want an easy life. A single person will have less wear or tear on a property compared to a couple and then add a dog or cat. As a pet owner you are less appealing, unless you have a landlord who likes pets or the agent says what a good tenant you are, or you have an experienced relocation agent representing you. Markets change and when stock levels rise compared to demand, landlords become more flexible as time is money. Reforms may well speed up that outlook to renting to people with dogs and cats.
Tips to securing a rental with your dog and cat
- Preparation: A pet cv, a landlord or vet or doggy day care reference, an employer’s reference, stating position and salary and length of time at the company. Click here to have a look at some example pet cv and references under pets & property tips and click at the bottom of the page.
- All about showing that you are a responsible pet owner. You are at home a lot with your dog, walk your dog on a regular basis.
- Look for how you can ‘stand out amongst the crowd’ from the other potential tenants. It is not just about paying more or offering a few months up front. Landlords like longevity, offering to stay longer. All about coming across as a responsible pet owner
- Be flexible on timing. If that means taking the property a little earlier, so be it. It is difficult to find the right property where the timings match, that will also accept your pet. You also have to be flexible.
- Ask the agent for help; some agents love pets and want to help or will get you into a property earlier.
Points to look out for when renting with a dog
- Lots of BTR’s (Build to rent) developments are pet friendly. Some are more welcoming to pets and some have restrictions. You need to double-check the fine print. At Pets Lets, we have come across buildings where dogs are limited to 2 per property; however, there is also a weight restriction of less than 15kg and a monthly pet charge.
- Just like The 2019 Tenant Fees Act, a weight restriction in blocks does not make sense. Dogs grow and with many mixed breeds, you have no idea how big your dog will be, you only have an idea. There is a real ‘grey area’ which means that when you break it down, people with very small dogs have an advantage over others. You just hope that this is not a growing trend. A dog is part of the family, irrelevant of size or weight. Labradors and Golden retrievers are some of the most popular breeds. You see in London how people have opted for smaller breeds as landlords are more likely to say yes. Again, it feels that landlords are determining your choice of dog, which is wrong.
- A property may be pet friendly, just make sure if there is a communal garden that dogs are allowed. Many will restrict dogs to being on a lead, others say no to dogs. Can you imagine living in a property, yet your dog friendly rental is not so ‘dog friendly’ when you open the door to the ‘communal’ back garden. London is notorious for old rules and regulations that are not so clear cut when it comes to renting with dogs in London.
Living in London with a dogLondon is a vibrant city. As Samuel Johnson said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” London is a great city to walk around with dogs. More and more eateries are dog friendly and there are an increasing number of ‘dog events’ across the capital as well as the UK. The dog equivalents of Time Out are The Londog and The Dogvine. Both great source of information not only on canine events as well as hot topics and places to visit with your dog. Both are highly recommended.
After Germany, the UK has the highest number of dogs per head. Ironically, in Germany where rental is far the ‘norm’, there seems to be less of an issue with renting with your dog, unlike in the UK, where both landlords and pet owners are equally as passionate.
Everywhere you walk in the UK, you see someone walking their dog on a lead. Dog walking is now a big industry, such is the demand. Landlords are one of the last bastions ‘holding out against pets’. However, both sides have a duty to be open-minded and responsible. Pet owners to train their dogs and pick up after them. Landlords to consider the positives of renting to someone with a dog or cat, not just see a pet equals damage. So do children, yet you cannot say no to families or question the number of children.
Whether it is due to the proposed reforms or open-mindedness from landlords, the percentage of pet friendly rentals will increase. In my opinion, the easiest way to do that would be to increase the deposit cap for pet owners. Better peace of mind for landlords about any damage and if there is no damage, the deposit is returned. Better than paying monthly pet charges.
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.