The UK and London rental market is very competitive. Finding a property that does not go within a few hours is not easy. That is no exaggeration. You miss a phone call, can’t see the property that day or in the evening due to work or some other commitment and it is gone. Or you rush to see a property that the agent has said is great and has just come on the market, only to find it does not ‘tick the box’ at all.
Sounds obvious, but as a pet owner renting with a dog or cat, just make sure the property is pet friendly before rushing over to see it. When an agent says, ‘well put in an offer and see what the landlord says’, in my opinion is not enough in a competitive market.
When renting in London with a dog for example, you sometimes need to double-check; otherwise, you could waste a lot of your time seeing pointless properties. On the other hand, if you are over cautious, you can miss out in a quick moving rental market. It is all about finding that balance. If the current tenant is renting with a pet, then that is good sign. If you meet the tenant, ask them direct if they have had any issues. The more you can find out about the property and the landlord the better. When making an offer, it helps to understand the landlord mindset as it differs.
Recent landlord mindset case study
We found a flat for a client with a house cat. The flat in Pimlico by the river was pet friendly. However, the landlady lived above and was particular about having a student as well as renting to a tenant with a pet. We collated a whole lot of information, which the agent then presented to the landlord, showing good character, a responsible tenant, dedicated student at London University and that the mother was a guarantor. That convinced the landlord. We ‘fought off’ another tenant without a pet and the landlord signed the tenancy agreement right there and then. Some experienced agents can provide you with a lot of information, for others it is ‘come on and make an offer’. ‘Read between the lines’, what ‘makes the landlord tick’ besides price. Don’t feel you have to pay well above the asking rent because you are renting with a pet.
Misconception by landlords and letting with pets
It is unfair that many people see pets as causing damage to a property. With any tenant, 2 or 4-legged, as a landlord you allow for wear and tear, which can be off-set against tax. You don’t ask a family how many children, how well behaved are they and can I see their school reports? Yet, children paint, have friends over, leave handmarks on walls and when they are older are often incapable of tidying up after themselves. I have some experience of teenagers and dogs. Dogs are far more responsible, sleep a lot, don’t slam doors and make less of a mess. Say no more. With UK pet ownership statistics peaking at 62% during lockdown and now around the 50% mark; renting with a pet is not something landlords can ignore. There is the demand and markets change. When supply exceeds demand, landlords will need to change their mindsets and consider letting with pets. This article offers a few tips to boost your chance of being accepted for a pet friendly rental. It is all about standing out and working out what appeals to the individual landlord. How do I, as a pet owner, get to the top of the queue, without having to make an over the asking price offer.
Understand the landlord profile
Understand the landlord as much as you can. A lot of agents want to get the ‘deal done’. If it is not with you, they need to quickly move on as otherwise their colleagues, or another company will do. If you like the property and the landlord is happy to rent to pets, then how do I beat the competition, many of which will not be renting with a dog or cat? Communication is key; if you are not dealing with the landlord direct and through an estate agent, ask about the landlord. What is important to them? Is it about longevity, purely on price and who manages the property. If the agent or landlord is a pet owner, you may find them sympathetic
Landlord say yes to pets and building has a no pets clause
At Pets Lets, we hear about pet owners securing a property, putting down the holding deposit, only to find out the building has a no pets clause which the landlord is unaware of. There are landlords who will consider renting to tenants with pets; yet the building says no and so you cannot have a pets clause inserted into the tenancy agreement. Without that in your rental agreement, you have no legal right to have a pet in the property. Most agents can only go on what the landlord tells them. If the landlord says yes to pets, many assume the building will be fine unless they know that building well from experience. Mention the words renting with a cat or dog or is the property pet friendly and many agents lose interest and can’t wait to get off the phone. Suddenly, you are not appealing as a tenant, and you are desperate to find a rental that will allow your dog or cat. If you have more than one pet, the number of options reduces further.
Define a pet friendly property
Great, the property is pet friendly. However, if you have more than 1 pet or you have a large dog, double-check exactly the ‘term’ pet friendly. A Pet CV, have a look at our example Pet CV’s, landlord references as well as template pets clauses, which can make a huge difference in convincing a landlord to accept pets. We have ‘won’ sealed bids because of a Pet CV and our client had 5 pets. The landlady loved it. The same for another client in a multiple sealed bid for a client in Marylebone with a large dog, as well as a client who secured a small 1 bedroom in Battersea with large dog facing Battersea Park. A Pet CV ‘visualises’ the pet(s) to the property owners, so they can imagine the pet. A cute image can win them over. Some newer building have dog weight restrictions. They are advertised as pet friendly, but some have a weight restriction of 15kg or another one we came across with a 22kg dog rental restriction.
Pet CV Writing Tips
Try and keep to 1 page. Just like a press release, most people don’t read any further. Power of the cute image more than copy. Sounds obvious, but no images of a pet eating/ chewing or scratching as that reinforces a landlord’s ‘perception’ of pets causing damage in rental properties. Training qualifications are useful as well as vaccination information and if the dog is allergy free and the cat is declawed. If your dog or cat is elderly, make that a key point and how they sleep most of the day.
Pets clause template
At Pets Lets, we are all about pets & property. Here is a useful pets’ clause rental template: “It is hereby agreed by the Landlord that the Tenant may keep [insert number of pets/ names/ breeds] at the Premises and should it at any time cause a nuisance to other inhabitants in neighbouring properties this permission may be withdrawn and that the Landlord will be fully compensated by the Tenant for any damage caused to the Premises or its contents by the aforementioned pet(s).”
Preparation is important. Have everything at hand to make a quick offer. You should have the following: Pet CV, employers reference stating position and salary, a landlord/ doggy day care/ vet reference for your pet Affordability. Have a statement showing funds. If you are a student, do you have a guarantor. Ideally a parent for students or a UK based guarantor.
The More Focused the better
Many times, we get emails with people looking ‘all over the place’. How can you keep ‘on top of’ properties coming to the market when your search is so spread across a large area? Work out your monthly budget and which locations could work for you to get the right pet friendly rental. For example, anything under £2000pcm and you are going to ‘struggle’ to find a property in Central London, Zone 1. Be realistic with your locations.
Landlord education about renting with dogs and cats
The ideal tenant for any landlord, is one who pays their rent on time and stays for a long time. People renting with pets, ‘tick’ many of those categories Longevity Grateful pet owners Responsible We advise landlords to consider letting with pets. You can specify only a small dog or a house cat. See how it goes. If the property has a patio or garden, it could work well as a pet friendly rental.
Pet friendly rental landscape
More landlords are considering pets across the UK. They have to as build to rent developments are pet friendly and young renters are opting more for communal developments. However, with it currently being a busy market with many tenants chasing fewer properties, landlords are opting for the ‘easy life’, which tends to be people without a pet. With changing rental legislation, more people owning pets, as soon as supply exceeds demand, landlords will open their doors to pets.
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.