One of the core reasons for the misunderstanding is the difference in perception. For pet owners, animals are more than just animals; they are family members, companions, and life partners. Non-pet owners may see them merely as animals due to a lack of emotional connection.
I have a particular friend who sees the world in ‘black & white’, there is no ‘grey’. To him a dog is an animal. Whatever you say, there is no changing his mind. You have to respect that. I just tend not to take my dog out with me when we are meeting up.
The lifestyles of pet owners and non-owners can differ greatly. Pet owners often plan their lives around their pets' needs, which can seem peculiar to someone who has never had to consider a pet in their schedule or living arrangements.
Again, there are similarities with children and pets. They have to be looked after. If you go out you get a baby-sitter or have a family member help out. With say a dog, they can only be left alone for 2-3 hours. Some dogs are ‘anxious’ so they need someone with them all the time.
With more people working from home, it is easier to have a dog.
The Emotional Bond
The emotional bond pet owners have with their pets can be perplexing to non-owners. They may not understand the deep affection and profound bond, leading to a disconnect in how they view the human-animal relationship. This leads to the next point. The issue of renting with pets in the UK compared to other countries.
I relocate a lot of overseas clients with their pets to London. They find it hard to understand why such a pet loving nation like the UK ‘closes its doors’ to tenants with dogs and cats.
It is a real issue and many of the charities such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are taking in people’s pets because they cannot find a place to rent that will allow their pets. It is really sad. I certainly could not give up my beagle/basset.
Why many landlords don’t understand pets
So why do landlords have this ‘anti’ pet mindset? I have come across dog owners, who have a property portfolio and yet say no to pets in their rental properties. You would think these landlords would understand? Again, like my friend I mentioned, some people have that ‘black & white’ mindset. They see a property as a pure investment. Maximise financial returns. Part of the pension.
The perfect tenant is minimal wear and tear and who is there for a long time. People with pets in their minds cause damage, can be noisy and upset neighbours and can affect future tenants who have allergies.
A lot of this thinking is very ‘old fashioned’. You don’t have to have a dog or cat to create a nuisance or damage the property. As a landlord I can tell you that from my own experience. I like to ‘practice what I preach’. Happy to be a pet friendly landlord. Therefore, the way to educate landlords who are set in their ways is financially or through legislation.
The proposed Rental Reform Act 2023 will help to some extent. Landlords will be under more pressure to accept pets or have the option of making a tenant take out a pets & damage insurance policy.
The other point is that over 50% of younger generations own a pet. Landlords don’t like an empty property. Ignoring tenants with pets may well affect the ‘bottom line’ of their investment(s).
When you look at social media there is too much negativity. Landlords share their ‘horror stories’ of nightmare tenants and how the cats scratched the curtains or the dog chewed the furniture. This is such a small percentage. As a landlord you have to factor in wear and tear anyway.
How about landlords and indeed estate agents posting ‘positive’ stories about pet owning tenants with a few cute images. Happy pet friendly rental stories. Sadly, changing mindsets takes time. That is the on-going issue between pet & non-pet owners. Until you look after a ‘four-legged’ friend, you just don’t ‘get it’.