Buying With Pets In the UK

18.08.2021 04:11 pm

Buying with Pets in the UK

We all know that Renting with dogs is an issue. However, did you know that the same rules apply in blocks and leasehold properties if you buy the property with your pet? There really is no difference. No pets clauses in buildings apply regardless of whether you are renting in the building or own the property.

When pets are allowed in a building or you own the freehold, then it is the discretion of the landlord whether they will rent to people with pets. That is a different matter and is a personal decision. We come across dog owners, who sympathise with fellow dog owners, yet when it comes to their own rental properties they say no to pets.

Buying with pets is not something people talk about. The assumption is I own the property, I am therefore allowed my dog or cat. Even people when renting out their properties, some do not know if pets are permitted in the block or not. When agents raise the question if pets are allowed, many times owners do not know. Not something that has occurred to them if they do not have a dog or cat themselves.

However, what would happen to those homeowners who got a pet over lockdown in violation of the leases? Just like a tenant, they could be evicted out of their own homes, as they are breaking the terms of the lease.

The same applies to buying a property as a pet owner. Unless the property is a freehold house, there may be an issue. If you can’t find out yourself, contact the building managing agents direct or ask your solicitor to raise the question right at the beginning of the process.

My advice before incurring any costs, check that pets are allowed in the block. Perhaps to do your own research in addition to listening to the estate agent. It could be a costly mistake.

Pets and leasehold properties

This Article by a law firm clearly outlines the issues when buying your own home with a pet. Even though you have bought it, you are not in complete control.

You would assume buying a pet friendly home is much easier than finding a pet friendly rental?

It should be simple, but with many things in UK property it is not. Particularly in cities where there are leases and no pets’ clauses in mansion and high rise blocks. Here are the rough guidelines you should follow when buying a property that will allow your dog or cat.

  • If the property is freehold, no issue. The property is 100% maintained by you and you own the land it sits on. Phew, I am allowed to move in with my furry companion.

  • Share of freehold. Theoretically you own part of the freehold here, so you should be allowed a pet in your own property. In reality, you need to double-check this, and I don’t mean just accepting the word of the estate agent. It can be far more complex. We heard of a buyer being blocked in the purchase of a flat in South West London by 1 member of the board. Everyone else agreed to allowing pets in the building. One person said no to pets and the buyer withdrew from the purchase. Nothing could be done about it. The most obvious way to check this is via your solicitor. Raise the fact you have a dog or cat from the beginning. If you have more than one pet, this can also be an issue as some blocks restrict the number of pets in a property. Do this first before paying fees for surveys and incurring legal costs. Everything must be in writing.

  • Leasehold properties/ Management Companies/ Building Rules This is where it can be complicated when owning particularly a dog. Owning a property does not give you the right to have a dog or cat. Some blocks will even dispute a goldfish or hamster. That is how stringent the no pets rules can be. Management companies are concerned that when one pet is allowed, that sets a precedent for everyone else to follow.

Pets and property in the UK is a big issue that is only now being addressed. This has certainly been pushed up the agenda with Jasmines Law which is due a second reading in the House of Commons later in 2021.

The extra 3.2 million pet owners over lockdown, has also certainly highlighted the issue of lack of pet friendly housing across the UK. However, the focus here on the statutory agenda is on renting with pets. The hope is that it will relax the rules across the board including people buying with cats and dogs.

Only 7% of landlords according to Government statistics allow pets

The number of UK pet owners and with only 7% of landlords offering pet friendly accommodation, it is hardly surprising that this has come to a ‘head’ when you look at the UK pet statistics.

Breakdown of the UK pet population

59% of UK households own a pet, of which 33% are dog owners followed by 26% who own a cat. Of those surveyed, the main reasons why people got a dog was because it made them happy (51%), followed by for love and affection (47%) and then companionship (35%) according to research by Statista

In total the pet population is approximately 34 million living in circa 17 million households. There are roughly 12 million dogs and 12 million cats in the UK. Of the 3.2 million households who adopted a pet during the lockdowns, 59% of those new pet owners representing Gen Z and Millennial generations (ages 16-34).

This article was written by Russell Hunt, Founder of Pets Lets. Before setting up Pets Lets, Russell was a search agent for over 20 years representing clients looking to buy in London.

His understanding of the property market and leaseholds, being a dog owner and inheriting dogs from people who’s landlords said no, give him an added insight into the world of pets and property.

Pets Lets has also set up the Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group where fellow pet owners can create a community and where we can all offer each other advice.