In the current property market, renters are often forced to accept a number of limitations in order to find accommodation. While many of these are understandable, one which tends to cause huge problems for certain people is the fairly common rule against keeping pets.
This can be a sensitive topic, especially when concerning renters who have a long-term furry friend to take care of. The UK is full of animal lovers, but the market has turned so heavily against pet owners that many will be willing to pay higher rents than they would otherwise just to avoid having to part with their companions.
Now, this is hardly down to landlords just being inherently grumpy. Pets have a reputation among landlords for causing:
There are certainly a wide number of cases to support this view, but consider for a second exactly what kind of pets pose these risks. A goldfish, for example, would hardly be likely to ruin your upholstery. Even a well-trained dog can be a safe bet provided that your tenant agrees to a few additional responsibilities.
While the most common answer to the question of whether or not tenants should be allowed to keep pets is a resounding ‘no’, there are also a few potential pros to giving your renters some leeway. It really depends on the type of animal, how responsible the tenants in question are as pet owners and what your own personal preferences are.
Before we go into any further detail, it is worth pointing out now that service animals are a completely different kettle of fish. It is illegal to discriminate against a tenant for having a service animal, such as a seeing eye dog. Any attempts to do so could land you with some serious fines!
Before deciding on whether or not you want to let your tenants keep pets, take a second to consider the potential advantages and disadvantages.
Now, most tenants who have long term pets are well aware of the negative stigma associated with their fluffy buddies. Many will be willing to work with landlords in order to prove that their pets do not pose a risk. The most responsible will even be able to offer ‘Pet CVs’ detailing their animal’s history with other properties, its medical records and even contact information for previous landlords willing to give references.
In short, it is perfectly possible for you to find a reliable and safe pet-owning tenant. However, it is up to you to decide if you are willing to put in the time and effort required to do so.
It can be good to start by advertising your property as one which accepts pets on a case by case basis. You can mention what type of pets you will accept while also making it clear exactly what kind of evidence potential tenants will need to provide.
This can include:
It can also be a good idea to try and meet the pet in question to see how well behaved it is. There is a huge difference between what an untrained animal is capable of and what you could expect from a well-taught and regularly-cleaned pet.
Even if you find a tenant with the most well trained pet in the world, it can still be a good idea to add certain clauses to their tenancy agreement.
These rules can state:
You can also ask for a higher deposit (particularly for any potentially dangerous pets, as damage they cause would not be considered fair wear and tear). Just in case cleaning or fumigation is required at any point after the end of the tenancy (it can often take months for certain pet-related problems to appear), you may also ask for a separate non-refundable payment.
If even after all of this you are still on the fence about the issue, you always have the option to start with a six month tenancy agreement. This way, you can see how things go and if there is a problem your tenant will be gone soon enough anyway.
Unfortunately there are always cases involving tenants with pets coming into conflict with landlords, either because the pets were brought in without permission or for the damage they cause.
In the case of a tenant having an illegal pet, your first step should be to remind them on your policy and request that the creature be removed. Should the tenant refuse, you have two options:
Unfortunately, the process of evicting a tenant over a pet can be long and complicated, with the outcome usually depending more on the seriousness of the offence than the landlord’s personal policy. For example, if you find that your tenants are keeping a goldfish, the judge will be unlikely to take the infringement as seriously as you do. In a case like this, your best course will usually be to contact a legal advisor.
It is also worth noting that if you evict a tenant and they leave their pet behind, it will be your responsibility as a landlord to deal with it.
If on the other hand the problem is with a pet which you knew about and allowed into the property, your response should depend on the issue at hand: