Pets in Rental Properties 1st Mar 2017

A lot of our landlords ask our advice on whether to take pets in their property or not. At the end of the day it is the landlord’s decision but here are some pros and cons to weigh up.

The Benefits of Taking Pets
• Allowing pets will of course open up your property to a wider audience of prospective tenants, thereby increasing your chances of getting your property let. A recent survey by the Dogs Trust, found that 78% of pet owners have experienced difficulty finding accommodation which accepts pets. And according to ‘Pet Friendly Rentals’ by not accepting pets, you will be decreasing your potential rental market by 50%.

• As there are fewer properties that do accept pets, there is every chance your tenant will stay longer, minimising voids and all costs associated with re-letting.

• Dogs may increase the security of the property as they tend to deter burglars.

The Risks of Taking Pets
• Pets can cause damage to the property fixtures and furnishings, and leave behind unpleasant odours. If you do take pets it is therefore wise to take a higher deposit, and to have a clause in your lease covering the fact there is a pet in the property, including an insistence on professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy.

• A detailed inventory including photographs should be done at the start of the tenancy in order to evidence the condition of the property. This can be compared to the condition at the end of the tenancy, with the evidence making deposit deductions possible.

Top Tips if Taking Tenants with Pets
• Decide up front which pets are and are not allowed. It is possible to be specific, eg, small well behaved dog considered but no dogs above a certain height, hamster fine but hippo not etc. Consider the suitability of the pet for the size of your particular property. Specify if you do accept pets when advertising your property as this may increase the number of viewing inquiries.

• Limit the number of pets to lower any risk of property damage.

• When checking references ask the previous landlord for a pet reference.

• Take a higher deposit.

• Do an inventory. An inventory, which costs landlords a relatively small amount of money, ensures that any damage done during the tenancy can be clearly identified, and as such offers a level of protection to both parties. In practice, inventories are essential in order to provide evidence regarding the condition of the property and its contents at the start of a tenancy. Without an inventory, it is very unlikely a landlord would be awarded money from the deposit scheme to cover damage, cleaning costs etc. An inventory is a ‘detailed list of all things in a place`. It is a piece of documentation itemising property fixtures, fittings and furnishings, and making comment about their condition. This refers to external items as well as internal.

• Include a pet clause in the lease stating your requirements regarding tenant responsibilities for the duration and at the end of the tenancy. For example professional clean including carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy.

• Inspect the property regularly to ensure pets (or their owners) are not causing damage to the property.

It is true that our 4 legged friends can often cause fewer problems than the 2 legged varieties. Generally good, well behaved tenants will have good, well behaved pets. However you need to weigh up the benefits and the risks, and make sure if you do accept pets that you have appropriate agreements in place to protect yourself from most scenarios.