Thursday 19 October 2017

Should landlords accept tenants with pets?

It was two years ago when I first wrote about whether landlords should accept tenants with pets in their rental properties. I’ve just this week had to turn down a perfectly pleasant couple for a house I have available to rent because they happen to have a dog, so I thought I’d revisit the debate.

My view is very much that the right tenant in an appropriate property for their pet could arguably make a better tenant than those without pets! The reason for this is quite simple; even though 46% of the population own a pet, 55% of landlords (according to a National Landlord Association survey) stipulate “no pets allowed”. This means tenants with pets have a limited pool of properties they can rent and are appreciative towards the landlord who allows their furry friend into the property. They often make greater efforts to be an exemplary tenant to remain in the property as they know they have fewer options available to them elsewhere. This tends to lead to longer-term tenancies from tenants who may be willing to pay an enhanced security deposit or a slightly higher rent.

I did of course say it needs to be the right tenant. 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.

And I also said the pet needs to be appropriate to the property. Those letting out a leasehold property will need to check the lease to see whether pets are allowed at all. You should also consider whether the property’s size and age would accommodate pets suitably. Housing a pack of large dogs in a brand new two-bedroom property may not be sensible, nor might it be in a Grade II listed home with wooden floors and window frames.

One threat to pet-owning tenants is some potential government meddling. You see, it was announced in the recent Tenants’ Fees Bill that security deposits may be capped at one month’s rent. This means pet owners won’t have the option to offer a higher security deposit, which is often seen as a good safety net and compromise by landlords. If this Bill comes to pass it will greatly hinder many tenants with pets in finding an appropriate home.

For me, a common-sense approach needs to be taken and on a case-by-case basis. If you can carefully assess the owner and their pet’s conduct in their current home and put in the correct safeguards (taking an appropriate security deposit, producing a thorough inventory and writing the correct terms in the tenancy agreement, to name just a few) letting to tenants with pets doesn’t have to be a worry and can in fact be beneficial to both the tenants and the landlord.

(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section on 19th October 2017) 

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings.


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