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Should landlords allow pets in their property?

According to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA), 3.2 million UK households have become new pet owners since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as the surge in pet ownership, the government is looking to introduce a ‘Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill’ to give “responsible and caring” tenants with pets the right to rent a property.

If the new bill is passed, landlords must show good cause as to why they won’t accept pets. The bill will also enforce adverts for rental properties to state ‘pets considered on a case by case basis’, banning the phrase ‘no pets’ to avoid being in breach of the consumer contract regulations 1999.

So, should landlords start accepting households with pets for their rental properties? We’ve put together a few points to think about:

  • Accepting pets will usually increase the demand for your property as there are few properties on the market that will allow pets.
  • Accepting pets usually lead to tenants staying longer as they find it difficult to secure other properties that accept pets.
  • Consider requesting an increase in rent per pet of say 2%, as you can no longer increase a deposit to allow for a pet in the property.
  • Pet owners often make responsible tenants as the lack of rental accommodation for pet owners means they do not wish to jeopardise their tenancy.
  • If you own a leasehold property, are pets allowed under your lease? If not, a tenant must not bring a pet into the property.
  • Pets can cause damage so you must actively manage your property and ensure you have a clause or addendum within your tenancy agreement agreeing to the pets and highlighting what will happen if the pet causes damage or turns out to be anti-social. The agreement should also outline what you expect the tenant to do at the end of the tenancy – for example, have the carpets de-odourised an cleaned.
  • Meet the pet(s) to assess their character.
  • Are you allergic to pet hairs? If yes, then accepting pets may prohibit you for being able to enter the property to conduct inspections or maintenance.
  • Check to see if your building and contents insurance cover accidental pet damage.
  • Ask the right question before allowing the pet within the property:
    • What type of pet does the tenant have?
    • How many pets do they have?
    • What’s the pet’s size and age?
    • Does the pet shed hairs?
    • What happens to the pet during the day?
    • What happens when the tenant is on holiday?
    • Does the tenant have someone who can look after the pet in cases of emergency?
    • Is the pet toilet trained or litter trained?
    • Does the tenant have a reference from their previous landlord regarding the pet(s)?

Ultimately you need to assess the owner and trust that they will care for their pet correctly and look after your property.

Assistance dogs, such as guide dogs, are permitted in rental accommodation by law. Landlords failing to allow this will fall short of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. The Office of Fair Trading also considers that a blanket ban on keeping pets in a property breaches unfair terms within the Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 - another reason to remove the 'no pet(s)' clause from tenancy agreements and instead qualify it with a phrase such as 'pet(s) considered on a case by case basis' or 'pets considered with an increase in the rental amount of…'.

For more information and advice, please contact our Lettings team on 0113 264 2642 or email lettings@emsleysestateagents.co.uk.

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Helen Jolly

Written by

Helen Jolly

Director (Lettings)

With a BSc in Estate Management, Helen has over 20 years’ experience in residential lettings and property management, from individual houses to property portfolios.

She set up Emsleys Estate Agents’ Lettings Service in 2007 and is responsible for assisting aspiring landlords or those with single or multiple properties to rent.