What private landlords need to know about pets
We're a nation of pet lovers. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association estimate over 40% of households has a pet. Of those 24% will have a dog and 17% a cat. This means there are 8.5 million dogs and 7.5 million cats kept as pets in the UK.
For private landlords, this means many potential tenants will have pets. And they are likely to be either cat or dog owners. And whilst a dog may be a man's best friend it can also cause a lot of damage to furniture, doors and lawns. And as for cats. Any wooden surface is fair game for a scratching post.
All of which begs the question; what do private landlords do when a tenant has a pet?
As a landlord, you have three options when it comes to pets.
- You ban them completely.
- You accept some pets.
- You allow your tenant carte blanche to keep whichever pets they want.
Initially, you will probably base your decision on whether you are a pet lover. But there are pros and cons to accepting pets. We'll look at both sides of the argument here.
Why some private landlords don't like pets
Or at least why you may not want your tenant to keep a pet. There are obvious risks in letting your property to a tenant who has a cat or dog. Or who intends to get one when the tenancy begins.
The most obvious is damage. A dog or cat can scratch doors and furniture legs. They can 'do their business' on the lawn killing the grass and a game of fetch can destroy any grassed area. But it isn't just damage private landlords will be concerned about.
Even the most ardent pet lover will admit that a dog will leave an unmistakable odour after living in a house for six months. And as for cat litter trays. Horrendous things. You'll need to redecorate and possibly fumigate after the tenancy ends. And that is expensive and time-consuming.
Dogs can also cause other problems. A constantly barking canine will not go down well with your neighbours. And those neighbours, as well as yourself, could be at risk of physical harm if the dog is vicious.
They are all genuine concerns which can lead many private landlords to conclude the safest option is to ban pets completely.
But of course, it comes down to the pet. A goldfish isn't going to leap out of its bowl and dig up the garden. But plenty of dogs will happily tunnel under the back fence.
So maybe instead of an outright ban, you will consider allowing some pets? This can be an ideal compromise and one which keeps both yourself and your tenant happy.
The case for allowing all pets
There are some real benefits to renting to tenants with pets. The first is choice. When you want to find a tenant you will have a much larger pool to choose from. By advertising you accept pets you'll have plenty of animal lovers wanting to rent from you. This, of course, presents an opportunity all of its own.
Because some landlords flatly refuse to accept pets those that do will find their properties in demand from pet owners. This could allow you to add a 'pet premium' and raise your rent above what you would normally expect to achieve. But there are other reasons why renting to pet owners is a good idea.
This is a bit of a generalisation but you will find responsible pet owners are usually responsible tenants. They will look after your property. And if you're looking for long-term tenants pet owners are ideal. They know the problem of finding a landlord prepared to accept their pets and once they do they're likely to remain in the property over the long-term.
The importance of the tenancy agreement
Whichever stance you take regarding pets you must make your position perfectly clear in your tenancy agreement. Ensure the tenant understands whether they're allowed pets or not and the consequences of breaking the tenancy agreement. If you need help with drawing up a tenancy agreement your letting agent will be able to help.
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