Post lockdown, renting with a dog in the UK is far more complicated. The rental market is very competitive and there are so many more breeds of dogs. At Pets Lets, we regularly come across clients with a different breed of dog. Imagine an estate agent or landlord who does not own a pet; they would not have a clue as to the weight or size of the tenant’s dog(s). That is why the pet cv is such a powerful tool as it enables the property professional to visualise your ‘four legged friend’. Click here on Relocation Services to see example pet cv’s.
Dog friendly rentals is a highly searched google term in the UK. Pets are part of the family, and it is too big a market for landlords to ignore. That is why more property owners are considering letting to people with pets.
We have seen landlords change their minds with a pet cv. You look at the cute images, see the training qualifications along with a professional reference. It can be a ‘tool’ to persuade landlords as well as agents to ‘list’ the property as ‘pet friendly’ on the property portals.
For a landlord, renting to a tenant with a dog is about two main points; are they responsible and will look after the property and can they pay their rent on time. A bonus if they fit that profile is that they would like to stay for a long time in the property. The formula for many landlords is minimal wear and tear and a tenant who pays on time. Maximising returns and least amount of outlay on works to the property between tenancies is optimal.
Sadly, we have come across landlords, who have dogs themselves and sympathise with the issue of renting with dogs in London and across the UK. However, when it comes to their own property portfolio, they say no to pet owners. Ironic, a case of the ‘head’ ruling the ‘heart’.
Battersea Pet Friendly Property Pledge, Dogs Trust Lets With Pets scheme, Cats Protection, just show what a big issue it is in the UK renting with a dog or cat. More than one dog or cat can make it even more complicated, and the number of pet friendly landlords reduces. At Pets Lets, we advise pet owners to be flexible on furnishings. A landlord is more likely to say yes to pets, if there is no fear of his or her furniture being damaged.
Dog weight categories
At Pets Lets we have come across a dog’s weight being an issue. Some newer developments are advertised as dog friendly. However, when you enquire, there are weight restrictions. Some buildings have a 15kg limit, others 22kg. This is all to do with buildings insurance.
What happens if you have a Labrador puppy, which when moving in weighs less than the limit and whilst living there gains enough weight to exceed it? With a crossbreed, you have no idea on weight or size, it varies.
I have a basset/ beagle cross, otherwise known as a baglehound. Half the size of a basset, Biscuit (aka Pets Lets co-founder), weighs 18kg. She would be fine for the under 22kg category, but without a pet cv, many landlords would just visualise a large basset and say no.
The problem here is that people looking to rent with a dog, will opt for a small breed because it will be easier to find a dog friendly rental. You may have grown up with say Labradors and love the breed, but if you are living in a larger city, the inclination may be to rent with smaller, non-shedding dog. Sadly, landlords are determining your choice of dog breed.
Saying that, we just agreed a 1-bedroom property for a client with a Great Dane/ Labrador mix. The landlord was more flexible to allow a large dog in the rental. We would never have agreed it without the pet cv.
Wear & tear
With any tenant, with or without a dog or cat, it is ‘luck of the draw’. All the references do is show the tenant can afford to pay the rent. It does not investigate their lifestyle and behaviour patterns.
If it is a family renting with a dog, who will potentially cause more damage, the dog or the children? The paint brush or the chewed furniture.
An individual with or without pets may vape or smoke. They may socialise a lot at home. You just don’t know. Therefore, it is unfair to point most of the blame for damage at pets. Elderly dogs and cats sleep most of the day. The ‘tag’ of we don’t consider people renting with a dog or cat because of damage, is too ‘generalised’. Look at it on a case-by-case basis.
Ideally a landlord does not want to have to paint the property or make repairs between tenancies. Minimise costs. In the current competitive market, they can get away with it. Why pick the tenant with a pet or the one that asks for too many special conditions, such as a re-paint etc.
Educating agent & landlords about dog friendly rentals
52% of the UK population own a pet. That is a huge market to ignore.
Market conditions change. Yes, currently demand is exceeding supply, but that will change. Demand will reduce and landlords will worry about the properties being empty and losing money.
Will those landlords who said no to pets, start renting to people with dogs and cats. Will they take the ‘risk’; why not. People renting with dogs and cats tend to stay for longer. They appreciate a good pet friendly home more than most and will look after it.
At the end of the day, there is wear and tear with any tenant. The dog or cat cannot be used as an excuse. Get the right tenant and renting to people with dogs, will transform a landlord’s opinion of lets with pets.
Some estate agents are also quite ‘narrow-minded’ when it comes to considering renting with dogs. Mention the ‘d’ word and the tone of the call suddenly changes, with the usual last few words of ‘sorry can’t help you.’ Most of the landlords have probably not been asked about whether they would consider letting with dogs or cats.
What about renting with cats?
Some landlords will specify cats only. Others will accept dogs but only small ones. Just like renting with dogs, renting with cats can also be broken down into categories. Some landlords will specify a house cat or ask if the cat has been declawed.
Other landlords will restrict it to one cat; cat friendly landlords will allow more than one. The 2019 Tenant Fees Act creates the issue as it caps the deposit to 5 weeks rent. This puts landlords off renting to people wit pets as they are worried about damage and feel this is not enough to cover it.
No pets clauses
UK property legislation is complicated. Just because you own a property, it does mean you can have a pet or rent to someone with a dog or cat. If the freeholder, who owns the building, say no to pets, their decision is final.
No pets clauses can be out of date. Some management companies like to keep ‘life simple’, so don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ with other tenants by changing the rules and allowing pets in the building.
Positive pet friendly property news
With the UK Government proposed legislation, which includes helping renters with pets, this is a positive step in the right direction. It also highlights what a big issue renting with a dog or cat is in the UK. Hardly surprising when so many people are now pet owners. With the increase of voters/ pet owners, it has naturally climbed up the political agenda.
A caveat is that landlords do not like being ‘told’ what to do and will find loopholes. That is why, the more positive experiences landlords have renting to people with pets, the better. UK property is a ‘small’ world and word spreads. Also, some private landlords own property portfolios. If letting with pets works in one property, why not rent to more people with pets.
This article was written by Russell Hunt, Founder 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.
Prior to setting up Pets Lets, Russell was a London property search consultant for over 20 years for clients looking to buy and rent in the Capital.
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.