There used to be the old clichéd window advert or newspaper box that advertised a property to let with the line - no pets allowed. This is now banned under OFT regulations but pet friendly rentals are still often difficult to find.
We are a nation of pet lovers and owners and given that demand for rentals is so high, with many people unable to get on the property ladder, is this still a realistic proposition? Figures state that 45% of the UK population are pet owners and 5.4 million people rent their home, according to figures from 2015.
Therefore, it’s likely that about 2.5 million people are looking for pet friendly rentals and it is predicted this is likely to increase substantially within the next 10 years.
So, what can property owners do to adapt to the increasing demand from pet-owning tenants?
- Check your freehold and lease terms - usually there are no restrictions in the UK, but it’s worth checking particularly with older freeholds.
- You could include a reference to pets in your letting agreement. If you allow pets, you’re more likely to receive interest from pet owners, who will stay in your property for an extended period as statistically they spend seven times longer looking for accommodation in the first place.
- Landlords could ask for a bigger deposit at the outset to cover any costs, such as thorough cleaning at the end of the lease and to cover any unforeseen circumstances at the end of the tenancy agreement.
There’s clearly massive demand for pet friendly rentals. Tenants often feel dismayed at the lack of its supply as some feel if they’re responsible enough to care for a dog or a cat, they’re capable of looking after a rental property.
Are tenants always being honest with landlords? Are pets being sneaked into rentals and not being disclosed? What can landlords do, other than using common sense and making intrusive spot checks?
There’s a question of tenant responsibility - any landlord would expect a garden to be kept neat and tidy with no pet excrement. What about internal damage to walls and doors? The smells that pets leave? Cats and dogs get fleas - perhaps landlords should insist on regular de-fleaing procedures. Fleas can survive in carpets, smells can last, and internal damage can remain, long after the pet and its owner have left so it is absolutely essential that you deflea the dogs.
Demand for rental is definitely increasing and consequently demand for pet friendly rentals is likely to grow too.
As a landlord you can take some simple steps, like the letting clause, bigger tenancy deposit and checking the terms of your freehold. Perhaps one other step you could consider is meeting the tenant with the pet and asking for a pet reference - after all, you wouldn’t allow a tenant to occupy your property without a testimonial, so why not for the pet?
Providing a pet friendly rental will lead to fewer void periods for your property, and responsible tenants, who are likely to stay for longer.