The two co-founders Pets Lets, Russell Hunt and Biscuit (basset/ beagle), sat down and reflected on what we have learnt in 2022 about renting with pets and in general.
We both agreed that lockdown brought out the best and the worst. The number of people in the UK adopting pets soared. Many dogs and cats and other pets found loving homes. However, when life returned to more normal pre-pandemic levels, many people found it too stressful to have a pet and we have sadly seen many shelters overwhelmed by people returning dogs and cats.
Some pet owners just do not consider that pets are for life. You don’t keep the ‘receipt’ and return the poor dog or cat to a shelter, because it does not ‘suit’ your lifestyle.
How does the pet shelter issue link with renting with pets?
As so few UK landlords, circa 7-10%, are prepared to consider pets, some people used it as an excuse to give their pet up for adoption. Also, some people including families were so keen to get a pet whilst ‘locked up’ at home, that they did not think about it being an issue with their landlord. So, when some landlords discovered a dog or cat on the premises, either through a spot check or a neighbour complaining, rather than endure the ‘challenging’ search of looking for a pet friendly rental, many new pet owners decided to stay put and instead give their lovely family pet back to the shelter.
With Landlords never ASSUME
Whether you rent with a pet or not, here are some useful rental tips:
- When an agent says the property will go quickly or best and finals tomorrow morning, don’t take it lightly if you really like the property.
- Be prepared before you offer or even start looking. Have an employer’s reference ready, stating position and salary. Longevity with a company helps too. Have a landlord reference prepared stating how good a tenant you have been and how well you have looked after the property. If you rent with a dog or cat, get your landlord to state there has been no damage from your pet. Have a pet cv to hand. A dog training certificate also shows you are a responsible dog owner.
- Finding the right property and matching the move in dates is tricky. If you need to take somewhere a week or two earlier and can afford it, do it to secure the property.
- When you offer on the property, an increasing number of landlords and agents will take your points verbatim. If you don’t ask for it, they won’t do it. If the walls need a ‘lick of paint’ or the wallpaper is peeling or the carpets are bare threads or there is a damp patch, ask they be addressed. That includes professional cleaning. Do not be afraid to ask for fear of losing out. If a landlord refuses to do anything and is focused on maximizing the rent, then you have had a ‘lucky escape’.
- The more prepared and decisive you are the better. Remember the agent will make their own recommendations to the landlords. If they like you, they will help. Bear in mind, some agents own pets themselves and want to help fellow pet owners.
- Until the holding deposit is paid and received, you can still be ‘gazumped’ by other parties. Send a payment screenshot as proof to the landlord or agent.
Proposed rental reform
Another year and we are no further forward with the reform of renting with pets legislation. Hardly surprising with the frequent change in Prime Ministers and cabinet re-shuffles. The proposal of landlords being able to ask for insurance does make sense. So many are afraid of damage to their properties and feel their ‘hands are tied’ by the 5-week deposit cap.
Private landlords are a bit like dinosaurs. They need to adapt or gradually fade away to the rise of build to rent companies.
You feel there is more stability in the UK government now. Housing reforms are high on the agenda with tenants’ rights. There will be positive changes, just a case of to what extent and how much it is diluted before becoming law.
Landlords & tenant’s issues
Being a landlord and a dog owner, you see the renting with pet issues from both sides. On the one hand, more landlords need to consider pets. Over 50% of the population own a pet. The rental market in the UK is buoyant and rents are increasing despite a cost-of-living crisis. The rental pool of pet owners is too big to ignore. Also, with the rise of build to rents, private landlords have competition.
The best tenants are not always the ones who offer the most money. Pet owners stay longer and tend to look after the properties more. They value a pet friendly landlord/ property as they are so hard to find.
On the other hand, with the dire UK economy, interest rates are on the increase. When landlords have to re-mortgage, monthly costs will substantially increase. Many landlords are arguing that they may well be in negative equity and need to sell. For many private landlords it is their pensions.
Landlords need to be less ‘blinkered’ and consider pets on a case-by-case basis. Taking on a tenant is a lottery; references don’t give you an overall picture of how a tenant will behave and treat a property. To say that pet owners are overall more considerate would be true. Something for landlords themselves to consider.
Looking ahead to the rental market in 2023
The landscape of the UK rental market is changing. It is becoming more corporate.
This is an interesting article from Property Week Build to rent operators will become a much larger part of the UK rental market. Only this week John Lewis announced a £500 million property joint venture With private landlords increasingly selling, corporate landlords will slowly take over. That private rental stock will not be replaced as the era of the ‘buy to let’ market with high yields and capital growth is over. I should know having been a London property search agent for over 25 years.
On a positive note, many of the build to rent landlords are pet friendly. As they look at it as a business rather than from a more personal perspective, which many private landlords do. Build to rent operators realise there is a gap in the market which cannot be ignored. Something to consider; some build to rent development do have dog weight restrictions.
Biscuits own thoughts
Biscuit has discovered that she is now allowed into many more cafes, pubs, shops and department stores. Sniffing out eateries rather than bricks and mortar is more her specialty. She does come away from developments disappointed with the lack of snacks on offer. A welcome pack with a bone would be ideal!
This article from the [Birmingham Mail](https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/black-country/selfridges-john-lewis-starbucks-among-230624950, discusses how Selfridges, Starbuck and John Lewis are pet friendly. This comes as Wilko allows pets into their stores. They are quite right with their statement: “A pet is more than just a pet, they’re family. That’s why we’ve decided to welcome pets in-store at 248 of our locations.”
Biscuit has certainly noticed an increase in the UK dog population; meeting and greeting new faces all the time. All these dogs and their owners need a home.
We work with pet owners from all over the world looking for dog and cat friendly rentals. Many of them are puzzled that Britain, known as such a pet loving nation, is in fact a country where you may have to make a choice between your home and your pet. Something that is ‘unthinkable’ in a democratic country like the UK, yet sadly true.
This article was posted by Russell Hunt & Biscuit, Founders 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. Click here to see useful pet cv’s and pets clauses, as well as other pet friendly rental tools on the Pets Lets Portal.. 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.