Demand for pet-friendly rental properties has increased 120% compared to last summer, according to a recent report from Rightmove. Although there is no legal obligation for landlords to accept a pet when letting their property, there is a requirement to provide a valid reason for turning down the request. It is not suitable for all properties, and we advise our landlords on a case-by-case basis, but there are certainly benefits to considering allowing pets in your rental property and there are ways in which you can protect your asset.
Benefits and risks
It’s understandable that you may have concerns about allowing pets due to potential risks, such as damage to the property. However, it should not be overlooked that having a blanket policy of refusing tenants with pets will reduce the pool of potential renters. Particularly over the pandemic, during which a total of 3.2 million households acquired a pet, bringing the national total to 17 million pet-owning homes, according to the BBC.
Furthermore, pet owners tend to stay in the property for longer (reducing voids for you) because they often find it so hard to find another pet-friendly option. However, you should always consider the suitability of the pet for your particular property, for example keeping a large dog in an apartment would not be advisable. Lets with Pets from the Dogs Trust is a useful resource with helpful advice on privately renting with pets.
If after reviewing all of the considerations you do decide to accept a pet, it is strongly advisable that you protect yourself.
Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, deposits are capped at a maximum of six weeks’ rent (unless it is a non-AST agreement) so you cannot increase the deposit beyond the equivalent of six weeks rent. You can, however, agree to have a pet and still protect yourself by:
- Taking out additional insurance
- Obtaining references from a former landlord where the tenant lived with a pet
- Pet-proofing the property by removing rugs and any expensive furniture
- Agreeing to the let on the basis of an increase in rent
- Adding appropriate clauses into the tenancy agreement to govern the type and number of pets, expectations of behaviour and supervision
- Carrying out regular inspections of the property
Finders Keepers’ pet clause is lengthy and includes the ability to hold a portion of the deposit for an extended period after the tenant leaves in case there are any problems, such as with fleas, for example.
It’s worth noting that tenants are obliged to return the property in the same condition in which it was initially let, therefore tenants are liable and should pay for any damage a pet causes to the property – or this can be deducted from their deposit.
With a sensible approach and consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the tenant our advice would be to accept pets where appropriate – but be sure to protect yourself if you do say yes.
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Published August 2021