by Ben Luxon August 21, 2019 7 min read

0 Comments

In the end whether or not you allow pets in your rentals comes down to you. There are a lot of landlords that don’t allow people to have pets which we quite understand. 

Deciding on a strict pet policy is the first step. Your pet policy doesn’t have to be a simple yes or no. Some pets are better behaved than others, some are better trained. Some need more attention or have bad habits. In the same way that not all tenants are created equal neither are all pets...

When it comes to determining your pet policy it’s well worth considering what animals are suitable for the property and then making sure you thoroughly screen any pets you let near your investment. 

For example, you may have a small single bed apartment - or you may have a large detached house with a big garden. The former probably wouldn’t be a good place for a pet, the latter would likely be fine for all but the biggest of animals. 

Let us imagine your property is suitable for pets and you are thinking about allowing your tenants to bring their furry companions into your property. You need to really consider and be upfront with your policy. There’s a difference between letting Jane and her cat Dingleberry rent, compared to Jane and her six Rottweilers named after Santas reindeer. 

Ask yourself:

  • What animals am I willing to let in? Cats, Dogs, Fish,  Birds, Rabbits, Hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, reptiles.
  • How many?
  • How big? Because the bigger the messier they are likely to be.
  • What will the neighbours think?
  • Is your property furnished? Because cats and dogs both have a tendency to shred furniture like paper.

Rental pet policy

Advantages of Allowing Pets

There are a few advantages to allowing pets. The main one though is all about tapping into an otherwise underserved market

Because so many landlords don’t allow pets there are a lot of prospective tenants out there with pets looking for their next home.

Allowing pets then widens your audience and significantly increases your chances of finding a tenant.

According to a recent survey by the “Dogs Trust”:

  • 78% of pet owners, according to a recent survey by the Dogs Trust, have experienced difficulty in  finding accommodation which accepts pets
  • 54% were never able to find a suitable property, and
  • 8% had to rehome their pet

Source

Because it can be so hard for tenants with pets to find suitable accommodation they often make every effort to be exemplary tenants so that their lease will be renewed at the end of the tenancy.

Related: 6 Actionable Tips for Appealing to Millennial Renters

Disadvantages of Allowing Pets

The obvious disadvantage of allowing pets is the extra damage that pets can cause a property. The risk of the pet causing damage can be mitigated by having a strict pet policy, however, many landlords, understandably, opt to avoid the hassle and risk altogether.

On top of the damage caused by pets, they can also leave lingering odours that are hard to get rid of. Whether it’s the insidious scent of wet dog or the cat got locked in one time and peed a little in the corner. Either way, animal smells are real and they can be incredibly hard to properly get rid of.

There are a few other disadvantages that are worth considering.

  • Noise 

Some dogs bark. This can be upsetting to neighbours. As a landlord, you want to stay on good terms with your neighbours and loud pet could strain this relationship.

  • Fleas

If not treated regularly cats and dogs are particularly susceptible to getting fleas. If they do get fleas there’s a chance that the property itself will become infested and this can be a difficult problem to get rid of.

  • Allergies

Lingering animal hair could cause issues for the next tenants that want to move in if they have allergies. Allowing pets now could restrict your ability to rent the property out later.

Landlord Pet Policy

Lease Agreements and Pet Clauses

If you decide that your property is appropriate for pets, and you think it will increase your chances to secure a great tenant then it’s well worth putting clause specific to your pet policy into your Tenancy Agreement contract.

These will be special clauses that state the tenant's responsibilities regarding their pets are.

For example, ensuring that litter trays are kept clean, that the pet gets routine veterinary check-ups, or specifying the scope and limitations of allowing an animal into the rental eg. only 1 dog allowed below 30kg.

Having these clauses in the agreement will mean that if your tenant's pet causes problems or breaches the contract you will be able to save a section 8 form to remove the tenant and their pet.

You can specify in the agreement that you will be taking a non-returnable pet payment which will go towards covering the costs of professionally cleaning the property after the tenant moves out.

If you do include these clauses in the agreement it is well worth going through them with your tenant to make sure they understand what you expect from them and what their responsibilities are in your eyes towards their pet. This will help you avoid issues in the future.

We will do a more specific article on pet clauses at a later date, exploring how and what to include in it. For now, have a look at the pet policy by letswithpets.org.uk 

Pet Screening

You wouldn’t rent to someone without running them through a screening service. Neither should you allow animals in without first making sure they are compatible with your property. 

The first step is meeting the tenant with their animal. How well behaved are they? How healthy is the animal? You can ask to see copies of your tenant's pets treatment records from the vets to make sure that the animal is being properly cared for. 

When you get a reference from the previous landlord for the tenant to make sure to ask about the animal and determine if there were any issues that the previous landlord had with the pet.

Finally, you need to consider the lifestyle of the tenants and how much time the animal will be spending time at home alone. For example, if the tenant is a nurse living alone regularly working 10 hours a day you might want to consider the distress this could cause the animal - which could lead it to misbehave and tear the property apart. If however, you have two tenants who work from home 90% of the time then the time the pet is left alone is massively reduced and the risk that it will act out minimised.

landlord pet policy

Can You Charge More for A Pet Deposit? 

It used to be that landlords would take a little extra deposit for protection against the damages that pets are often associated with. However, since the introduction of the “Tenant Fees Act 2019” on the 1st June 2019, landlords in England (regardless of whether their tenants have pets or not) are capped at taking no more than five weeks’ rent for the tenancy deposit where the annual rent is less than £50,000. There is six weeks’ rent cap where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.

Capitalising on your Pet-Friendly Status

If you do decide on a more friendly pet policy, then this is something you might want to shout about. As we established earlier in the article. Pet-friendly landlords are few and far between so letting the pet owners of Britain know how to find you are a sure way to secure a tenant fast.

That being said, if the tenant doesn’t feel like a good fit, or their animal doesn't appear to be well-behaved and trained then don’t feel obliged to rent to the first pet owner that comes knocking.

It is worth specifying upfront the kinds of animals you accept and any limitations. For example, you might accept cats, but not dogs and only one cat at that. Or you might accept dogs but only under ones under 30kg. 

A  final note on this front is that if you have any particular conditions for your pet owners eg. you require them to have regular vet check-ups it may be worth mentioning upfront to filter out some of the less wanted enquiries.

Final Things to Consider 

  • The animal becomes the landlord's responsibility if you evict a tenant and they leave their pet behind.
  • You can use the tenant's deposit to cover damages and cleaning required because by pets. 
  • You will want to look at your insurance policy as many regular landlord insurance policies don’t cover pets damage. You may need to get a separate or new policy for this.
  • Do your research on the behavioural and personality of the breed in question as personalities between breeds can vary widely. 

For example, a Cocker Spaniel is generally friendly but very energetic and needs plenty of exercises and outdoor space. A German Shepherd, on the other hand, is less friendly, harder to train and can be aggressive, which is widely different from a Havanese is typically very friendly, low energy lap dog.

  • Don’t allow your tenant to pressure you in to allowing a pet if you’re not comfortable with it. You will likely encounter a few sob stories. But at the end of the day, it is your property, your investment, and you are assuming the most risk. 
  • Consider a six-month tenancy agreement, especially for new tenancies with pets involved. This will allow you to both to move on if things don’t go as expected.

Related: What to do if your Tenant Leaves their Stuff Behind 

pet policy from your landlord

Conclusion

The decision to allow pets is a difficult one. However, with such an overwhelming number of pet owners out there looking for a home that allows animals it can be a good move, one that will keep your vacancy periods blissfully short.

Related: How to List your Property Online and Fill your Rental Fast

That being said, the situation should be treated with care and proper precautions are taken. In general, a good pet owner with a well-trained pet is likely going to be a good tenant. This is why it’s so important to meet the tenant with their animal before you allow them to settle in. But every scenario is different, and you will need to use your best judgment. 

Do You Allow Pets? What Has Your Experience Taught You?

Ben Luxon

"Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."



Also in Articles

Uk rental market stats
10 Stunning Stats about the UK Rental Market

by Ben Luxon November 13, 2019 3 min read 0 Comments

For developers and property investors, as well as buy-to-let landlords, assessing rental market stats can give you a better insight into who your tenants are and what they actually want. Here are 10 stats that we found both interesting and enlightening about the UK rental market.
Read More
landlord winter maintenance tips
7 Maintenance Tips to Prepare your Rental for Winter

by Ben Luxon November 06, 2019 4 min read 0 Comments

Winter can bring with it a host of costly issues for properties, from split pipes to fallen trees. However, with a little extra care and mindfulness, you can minimise potential problems avoiding expensive maintenance costs, long tenancy absences, and stressful midnight emergency calls.
Read More
UK tenant referencing
How to get the BEST Tenants: Tenant Referencing UK

by Ben Luxon October 30, 2019 5 min read 0 Comments

Rogue tenants can cause a lot of grief, from unpaid rent to £1000’s in damages. It’s best practice then, before you let someone rent out your property to ensure that they are going to be good tenants. 
Read More

Join Our Newsletter