We are a nation of pet lovers, however, for landlords, there can be a lot of love lost when it comes to our furry friends and the damage they can do to a property. Jeni Browne explains the arguments for and against allowing four-legged tenants in your buy to let and what you can do to cover any damage costs…
There are around 11 million cat owners and 9 million dog owners in the UK, according to the veterinary charity PDSA. With nearly 25% of families in England now renting privately, demand for pet-friendly properties is high, especially for those who are looking to settle down long term. Zoopla has a ‘pet-friendly’ filter on its search function for rented property and there is now even a dedicated site, ‘Let’s with Pets’, specifically for listing animal-friendly rentals. In a recent survey by Landbay, pet-friendly property came up as the No.1 desirable attribute when looking for a rented home and it also featured in Simply Business’ top property features that tenants look for.
In the current market, many people are unable to buy and so are renting on an increasingly longer-term basis. This is causing some renters to question why they are not able to enjoy having a pet in the family in the way that homeowners can (Guardian article 3/9/2019).
There are many practical reasons why landlords do not allow pets as they can cause costly damage to property and furniture. Historically, those who have allowed pets usually required a ‘pet deposit’ on top of the usual deposit, or, charged cleaning fees at the end of the tenancy. However, under the new rules in the Tenant Fees Act 2019, deposits are capped at 5 weeks rent and post-tenancy cleaning charges are no longer allowed, so these methods are not viable.
In the absence of 'pet deposits', we are starting to see the introduction of tenancy agreements with ‘pet rents’ written into them; an additional charge, usually around £50 per animal, per month, to cover any damage costs. Increasingly, tenants are showing that they are willing to pay extra to keep their four-legged companions with them, so what other benefits are there to being a pet-friendly landlord?
Financial benefits - as we’ve already said, despite the Tenant Fees Act 2019, new ways are coming to market to protect yourself against damage costs and tenants are willing to pay higher rents to have animal companions.
Build a better relationship with your tenants – as pet-friendly rentals are more difficult to find, by showing understanding towards your tenants’ animal-loving needs, they’re more likely to stay put for longer in your property.
Marketing – being pet-friendly opens your property up to a whole new pool of prospective tenants who might not have considered it before, ultimately this could make your property more rentable.
Tenant Honesty – by allowing pets, you can agree on the rules with your tenants and they won’t feel the need to hide their pets from you. Again, this can foster a better tenant/landlord relationship.
Damage – pets, especially those with claws, can cause damage to flooring and furniture. Even if they’re well trained, they can increase general wear-and-tear or worse, open the property up to infest fleas and mites, incurring higher post-tenancy cleaning costs.
Noisy neighbours – depending on the property set up, dogs barking can irritate next-door neighbours.
Allergies – once there have been pets in the property you will have to notify new tenants in case of allergies, as pet dust can linger in soft furnishings even after they’ve vacated.
Ultimately, it’s up to you as a landlord whether you allow pets into your properties or not. Sometimes it’s simply not suitable for the property, however, it may open your property up to a whole new realm of tenant.
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3rd October 2019