A ban on pets in rented properties is not uncommon, but with an increasing number of people entering the rental market, is it time for landlords to reconsider? The potential damage to the house and its furnishings, as well as the additional cleaning required at the end of a tenancy, are two of the main reasons often given for refusing to allow tenants to keep pets in a home to let. However, there has been a significant rise in the number of people turning to rented accommodation, either because they cannot afford to get on the housing ladder or have been forced to sell due to financial difficulties.
Landlords may therefore be alienating a large pool of responsible tenants, simply because they have a cat, dog or other companion. According to a spokesperson from the Dogs Trust, there has been a 56 per cent rise in the number of people handing their pets over to the charity in the past five years due to difficulties in finding appropriate housing. The organisation is concerned that this figure may increase if landlords are not prepared to reconsider. There are steps that property owners can take to help protect their asset without having to turn away all pet owners, the representative explained. "Much of the perceived risk in taking on pet owners as tenants can be addressed through steps such as inserting a pet clause into contracts. They can also ask for references from a previous landlord or vet to confirm [the] animal's good behaviour," she stated.
Two years ago, the Dogs Trust set up an initiative called Lets with Pets, designed to help those with cats or dogs find a pet-friendly rental property. Over 120 lettings agents have already joined the scheme and are working to convince landlords that animals won't necessarily cause damage to a house or flat. The spokesperson noted: "They recognise there is a strong business case in considering pet-owning tenants, especially when nearly half of all UK households own a pet." Research carried out by the charity indicates that such people are prepared to pay more if they can keep their animal with them - 59 per cent of respondents to a survey said they would be happy to provide a higher deposit for a pet-friendly rental property, while 75 per cent of those questioned would not mind paying for the soft furnishings and carpets to be professionally cleaned at the end of their tenancy.
- Thursday 10 November 2011