Thursday, 8 October 2015

Landlords: Should you accept pets?

Many landlords instinctively say they do not want pets in their rental properties due to the possibility of damage or noise. With 46% of the population owning a pet, is this really a sensible approach to take?

In some circumstances it is. You’ll need to check the lease of a leasehold property to see whether pets are allowed. You should also consider the type of property as to whether its age and/or size would accommodate pets suitably. Housing a large dog in a brand new furnished property may not be sensible, nor in a Grade II listed home with wooden floors and window frames.

In principle though, I have no issue renting my properties to tenants with pets as long as I’m careful in my selection. Just like kids are a reflection of their parents, you can often judge a pet by its owner. I might politely decline a young unkempt individual who comes to a viewing dragging along two fire-breathing Pit Bull Terriers. On the other hand a well-presented professional couple are likely to take pride in how their pet behaves.

Because so many landlords and agents simply refuse to allow pets in their rental properties, it means a wider tenant pool for those who do (and potentially a higher rent). Tenants that are ‘lucky’ enough to find a landlord that accepts pets will often make every effort to be an exemplary tenant so as to remain in the property. It often leads to longer-term tenancies from grateful tenants who know they have fewer options should they need to move.

Landlords should perhaps accept that when renting ‘family houses’ quite often their target audience (families) will have a pet that is part of the family. Being flexible towards pets may help let the property quicker, which will ultimately save you money.

As well as carefully assessing the owner, a landlord can also protect themselves in other ways. Be sure to check with previous landlords the pet’s conduct in their property. You may even wish to visit the tenant (and the pet) in their current home.

You could also take an increased security deposit to further protect against the pet causing damage. Some landlords even take a non-refundable fee to cover an end-of-tenancy clean (I avoid this as I think it gives tenants an excuse not to clean at the end of the tenancy).

A thorough inventory should always be taken so there’s no confusion about what kind of state the property was in before the tenant/pet moved in. You should also put a clause in your tenancy agreement of what pets have been allowed and some conditions regarding the upkeep of the animal and the property e.g. keeping litter trays clean / treating for fleas.

Ultimately it is the landlord’s choice whether they wish to accept pets in their rental property. My experience shows that the right tenant who happens to have a pet will infact take extra care of the property, whilst staying longer, remaining grateful to have found a home for themselves and their furry friend. 

(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section 

on 8th October 2015).

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings.


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