UK pet friendly properties

'Pets allowed' on the UK property portals

30.08.2023 09:14 am

Scrolling through the UK property portals is stressful enough. Some are old listings which have not been removed. Others are agreed by the time they are listed.

Contacting estate agents is also difficult. Will they respond to your email enquiry, return your voicemail or will their colleague call you back? Sadly, from our experience and well as feedback from people who get in touch with us, many do not respond at all.

The tip is to develop relationships with individual estate agents who cover your areas. In a way ‘befriend’ them, so you are first through the door of a new instruction. Some agents like to be asked for help and do go out of their way to advise you. Some are pet owners themselves, so are sympathetic to the difficulties of renting with dogs and cats. Remember though, the landlord is the agent’s client. At the end of the day, they don’t want to lose the instruction.

‘Pets allowed’ on the property portals

With the current UK rental legislation, the decision to accept pets in a rental property is up to the landlord, unless the building has a no pets clause.

The main portals Rightmove, Zoopla and Open Rent, state ‘pets allowed’ or tick against the pets category.

At Pets Lets, we will only list properties that consider pets. They can be long & short lets or holiday lets. As long as you can holiday or live with your pets. It is good to see the other portals adding ‘pets allowed’ as a category. It is certainly a move in the right direction. Not a solution though.

The idea with the proposed 2023 [The Renters Reform Bill(] is to change that. Make it harder for a landlord to say no to renting with a dog or cat.

Renting with pets loopholes

With anything people do not approve of, they look for loopholes. No landlord likes to be told what they can and can’t do. Landlords have been affected by a lot of legislative and taxation changes which has negatively impacted their investments and pensions.

When you look at the landlord Facebook groups there is a lot of passion against renting with pets. Damage, disturbances and allergies are the main concerns. There are some obstacles to renting with pets in the UK:

  • Some estate agents do not ask the landlord if they will consider pets. They are focused on getting the instruction, they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’.
  • Some estate agents are on individual commission. Don’t rent the property don’t get paid. Go with the most promising tenant first. Someone with a pet is not that appealing. You will lose out to your colleagues.
  • Competitive market. Easy to pick the tenant without the pet. We do come across landlords who are pet owners themselves. They tend to give tenants with pets a chance as they understand. However, they are in a minority.
  • Not a loophole; if the building says no to pets, nothing the landlord can do about it.
  • Finally, and we have come across this, some landlords say no to pets on religious grounds.

Education not just legislation

Landlords don’t like ‘change’. As I mentioned, they don’t being ‘told’ what to do. They have to reach the decision themselves.

Therefore, the more positive stories from landlords about renting to tenants with pets the better. Landlords will influence landlords. Also, when 50% of the UK population owns a pet, it is too big a market to ignore. Trust in renting with pets is better done organically than through legislation. It is natural human behaviour; if you force something on people they will protest. Just look at the London Mayor and the Ulez charge expansion.

Pet owners across the UK & globally

At Pets Lets we talk to pet owners both in the UK as well as overseas looking to relocate to the UK with their pets.

The common theme is how stressful it is. The portal says yes to pets and the landlords and agents say no, or you are low priority.

This is slowly changing with more private landlords considering pets and in particular the rise of pet friendly build to rent developments across the UK.

Pet unfriendly properties, buildings & areas

I think sometimes it is about common sense. You look at a property on the portal, it says pet allowed. Yet, it is a tiny 1 bedroom or studio property. Is that really practical and any landlord or agent is going to see it the same way. You are already at a disadvantage.

Same with say a property with a spiral staircase. For some pets that won’t work. A tip, even though the property on the portal says ‘pets allowed’, will it work for you and your pets? Look at the images and the floorplan before sending an email or making a call.

This article was written by Russell Hunt, Founder of Pets Lets. With over 25 years as a London estate agent and London property search agent covering London and the home counties, as well as a dog owner with a basset/ beagle, setting up the Pets Lets Relocation Service made complete sense. We work with clients from all over the world. Pets are our four-legged children, aka ‘fur-babies’.