A few years ago I found myself in the awkward position of having sold one property but unable to move into the new one as it required modifications. This meant that I was going to have to rent a house during the intervening period but there was one major problem. Not only did I have a dog as a pet, which I wished to bring with me, it was not your average size dog. Jasper was a Great Dane – not the exactly smallest dog in the world!
I am well aware that it can be extremely difficult to find a landlord who is prepared to rent a property, knowing full well that the tenant will be bringing pets with them. It is interesting to note that technically, under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, a landlord cannot just insert a simple “No Pets” clause in a rental agreement. Landlords may not unreasonably forbid tenants to have pets and certainly no landlord is allowed to refuse permission with regards to guide or house assistance dogs.
In order to comply with legal requirements in relation to tenants’ pets, it is essential that the rental agreement includes a fair Pet Clause that basically will hold the tenant responsible for any additional damage that may be caused by the pet in question.
Such a clause may specify the type and breed of animal and to identify it, should include the animal’s name. It should also state that the tenant is not permitted to bring any further pets into the property other than those already defined. It should include a section which clearly states that the tenant is responsible for all damage caused by the pet but excluding fair wear and tear. As well as physical damage, the tenant should, where necessary, be responsible for cleaning carpets, upholstered furniture and the like, as well as fumigating the property for fleas and mites. I would even go so far as to suggest the landlord takes a non-refundable extra deposit to cover these cleaning costs and carries them out himself.
However letting a property with pets allowed does have certain advantages. As I’m sure those tenants with pets can find it very difficult to find a property to rent with pets allowed, there are a number of issues that can help the landlord.
Firstly, it will enable a landlord to ask a higher rent and of course a higher deposit from the potential tenant.
It is well known that most landlords prefer not to have pets but as there is an increasing demand for such properties, this will open a greater audience to the landlord, thus increasing the chances of finding good tenants.
A tenant with a pet is more likely to be an excellent tenant since, because of the shortage, they will be keen to renew a tenancy agreement rather than look for another property. This of course is a great advantage to the landlord as it provides a welcome and continuous rental income.
If the pet in question happens to be a dog, this could have an added advantage to the security of the property. Dogs do normally not like strangers and depending upon the size, could act as a strong deterrent to any potential burglar.
Of course there are also a number of disadvantages in renting out a property with pets. There is no escaping the fact that certain pets can smell, particularly when they are not cared for properly by the owner. They can cause disturbance to neighbours, especially when dogs bark at unsocial hours. Most landlords are aware of the need to keep good relationships with adjoining neighbours.
Remember that pets, particularly dogs, cats and indeed rabbits can be very destructive and it is therefore essential that a landlord incorporates a sufficient amount within the deposit to cover the cost of any repairs that might be necessary. Remember also that when the tenant leaves, you will need to find a replacement and it could be a problem when people have an allergy to certain animals. The landlord must incorporate within the Pets Clause a responsibility which is placed purely on the tenant to have the property cleansed throughout.
I do highly recommend that when considering renting a property to a tenant who has pets, that you actually meet the tenant with their pet and see how the two interact with each other. This may sound strange, but if there is an apparent “loving” bond between the two, then it is highly likely that not only will the tenant take good care of the, pet but will also take a pride in ensuring that the property is kept in a clean and repair to condition.
One other point to consider is the type and size of the pet. Obviously, I needed to find a reasonably sized property for Jasper because he was a rather big dog, to say the least. It just would not have been feasible to try and keep him in a small property and indeed it would not have been kind to him. Therefore you really should consider the size of the property and the size of the animal before you reach a final rental agreement with the prospective tenant.
There are also one or two other points that as a landlord, you will wish to bear in mind. Whilst you may own the property, if it is leasehold, there may very well be restrictions that prohibit pets anywhere on the premises. This is something that you should look into. You should also consider getting a full reference from a previous landlord, particularly one where the tenant has already lived with pets. This should give you an idea of how your prospective tenant will treat your property.
One final point to consider; if you find that you have to evict a tenant and any animals are left in the property, it is your responsibility to deal with those animals – indeed, they become your property!
As I have previously stated, it is becoming more difficult for tenants with pets to find landlords who are prepared to rent property that permits pets. You really should consider when marketing your property that you emphasise the fact that you do except pets, since this can drastically increase the number of enquiries you will receive on that property. I would also suggest that if you like, you should mention the types of animals you will allow in the property, which will normally be cats and dogs. If you are not prepared to entertain other exotic animals, you will have clarified this point at an early stage.