17.11.2020 05:54 pm

At Pets Lets we are all about renting with your dog in London. If you don’t own your own property, renting with a dog can be a problematic. Only 15% of London landlords say yes to pets. Unlike many other European countries, such as France, Germany, Belgium, where renting with a dog is seen as a ‘norm’, the UK is the complete opposite.

Whether you are flying in from overseas, moving within London or moving into London, allow more time to find a dog friendly rental in London. You will be surprised how many agents and landlords say no pets.

Over the last few years, bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and department stores have opened their doors to customers with dogs. It makes sense. A lot of your target markets are dog owners, if you turn them away, they will be welcomed by the competition. This is the same for rentals. People renting with a dog or cat in London is a large market, yet few landlords see the potential and need to be educated.

Andrew Rosindell MP has introduced a bill called Jasmines Law to end pet discrimination laws in rented accommodation with the strapline of A Pet In Every Home. This bill will have a second reading in the House of Commons in January 2021. It looks to balance the issues landlords have renting to people with dogs and the needs of dog owners in the UK.

The main property portals do not make it easy to find pet friendly properties. Out of [Zoopla] (https://www.zoopla.co.uk/), Primelocation, [Rightmove] (https://www.rightmove.co.uk/) and Onthemarket.com, only Zoopla has a pets allowed filter.

The difference with Pets Lets is that we are more than an automated system or an app. When you contact us there are experienced pets & property professionals to answer your questions.

Dogs Trust Lets with Pets Scheme is a good way to find out more general information about finding a property with your dog. It highlights more about the UK property system and gives a good overview.

Tips For Landlords Considering Pets

Leasehold properties You may own a leasehold property and be happy to consider pets. However, in many leaseholds there are no pets clauses, which would mean that the owner of the building could prevent you allowing any pets. This is something people need to consider before buying a property if they have or are planning to get a dog or cat.

Freehold properties

With a freehold property, you as a landlord own it outright. In 99.9% of cases it should be fine, but always check if there is some issue or not.

Types of pets

In addition to dogs and cats, here are the more common types of household pets. Have a Click here to see 2019 UK household pets statistics

Dogs

In 2019, 23% of UK owned a dog. These are pre-lockdown figures which saw a huge rise in people adopting dogs and in particular puppies. One can assume that this figure will be more around 25-26% now. Dogs are the most popular pet in the UK. Yet they are also the most common type of pet objected to by landlords. Only 15% of London landlords accept pets. Others may accept a pet if the property has been vacant for a while.

If a property has been on the market, ask the agent to talk to the landlord. Rather than lose money, they may well consider allowing a small dog or cat.

The 2019 Tenant Fees Act was not written with pet owners in mind. Many landlords feel that a dog can damage a property, shed excessive hair and barking excessively at night and annoy the neighbours. A lot of this is a myth and like any tenancy without or without pets, some tenants are well behaved, others are not.

How this Act affected pet owners was that deposits were capped to 5 weeks, which landlords felt was too little to cover damage by a dog or cat. Also because the Act restricted fees landlords could charge tenants, it meant landlords could not enforce a deep clean with tenants with pets. It has made landlords more reluctant to accept a dog or cat and if there is an alternative they will choose the easier route.

Before taking in a tenant with a dog, you need to find out whether this is likely to happen. **The Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than four hours at a time.

Provided their owners give them enough exercise, there is no reason why dogs cannot be kept in flats or houses without gardens. Being located close to a common or park can suffice. Each case must be assessed individually. For example, some people have a house cat, so outdoor space is not a necessity.

All dogs should be toilet trained as puppies and most owners when renting with a dog, make sure there is no mess, and if so, it is cleared up immediately.

Assistance dogs

Please note that assistance dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, and dogs for disabled people, must be permitted by law in your property.

Cats

Cats are also extremely popular pets with over 16% of the UK population owning a cat. They can be far less trouble than dogs and some landlords have cats only policies.

They are independent animals and generally spend a lot of time roaming around outside. However, this does not mean that they cannot be kept in flats. It depends on the cat. Some are house cats and stay inside.

A Landlord Checklist with Prospective Tenants with Pets

  • Speak to the tenants about their pets Some landlords like to meet the tenants in person before singing a contract. Meet the tenants with their dog. You will see very quickly whether the dog is well trained.

  • Ask for a reference You should ask for a reference from a former landlord or if not possible from a professional such as a vet. Some key points you should ask are as follows: • How long did the tenant live in the property with a dog or cat? • Did you inspect the property on a regular basis? • Was the property properly looked after and left in good condition? • Did you have any issues during the tenancy? • Was there any damage caused by the pet? • Did any of the neighbours complain about dog barking etc?

  • Consider the suitability of the pet for your particular property. What is the size of the dog? In a small flat a big dog may well be unsuitable. Also look up the breed of the dog. What are the characteristics. Does it tend to bark a lot, is it of a nervous disposition generally. This is all very general information but does help create an overall picture of the tenancy and any potential issues going forward.

  • Pets are people’s children In the modern-day world, pets are people’s children. They are trained, spoilt and eat a healthy diet with many organic pet food companies on the market. People are increasingly treating their pets as humans. They look to them for companionship. They give people a sense of fulfilment. Despite economic concerns, they will spoil their dogs or cats and cut back costs on themselves. The pet sector mirrors the human lifestyle sector. Look at all the groomers, doggy day care centres, doggy healthcare products on the market. Here is a breakdown of UK Pet Market Industry Statistics in 2019. This has only grown since with lockdown.

    There are over 9 million dogs in the UK and over 8 million cats

    These are not statistics that landlords, freeholders and managing agents can continue to ignore. Pet discrimination in rental properties does need to change. However, so do attitudes towards pets in the property sector. A dog or cat does not equal damage.

    As a landlord you would not question a tenant about their children’s behaviour. Yet children can cause more damage than pets.

  • Add a Pets Clause to the Tenancy Agreement Make sure there is a pets clause in the tenancy agreement that is specific to the dog or cat and by name. This then prevents the tenant from getting another pet without your permission.

Tips For Pet Owning Tenants

  • Landlords need you as much as you need a pet friendly property
  • Don’t settle for anywhere because it will accept your pet
  • If a property has a garden and has been vacant for a while and is not pet-friendly, talk to the landlord or get the agent to ask. Time is money to a landlord, and they may well change their minds
  • Make sure you have a previous landlord reference at hand and a Pet CV is in order with up to date vaccinations
  • When you find somewhere, be decisive, don’t dither
  • Don’t be afraid to ask about the removal or addition of furniture or other items
  • Make sure the property is safe for your pet; such as glass or jagged ornaments in the garden
  • Offer to meet the landlord with your dog
  • Offer a deep clean at the end of the tenancy
  • To secure the property, offer to pay more than 1 month up front
  • Finally; just because you feel at a disadvantage as a pet owner, don’t be put off negotiating on the rent. Offer less and see if you can offset that with a longer length tenancy and add a break clause. Landlords like responsible tenants who stay.

Russell Hunt is the Founder of Pets Lets, a 100% pet friendly London property portal where landlords consider renting to people with dogs and cats. We also offer Relocation & Viewing Services as well as a hub of information about dogs in London. Pets Lets is a community where people with pets matter. Russell is a staunch advocate for increasing the number of pet friendly landlords in the city and was a London search agent for clients for over 20 years.