Pet Plans: Should you let to pets?

We’re a undoubtedly a nation of pet lovers, with nearly half of UK households playing hosts to an animal resident (who probably rules the roost)

The most popular pet is man’s best friend, with 9 million (26%) of households home to a dog, with cats a close second, with 8 million (18%).

Some people prefer a slightly more unusual housemate though:

  • Rabbit: 2%
  • Indoor birds: 1%
  • Guinea pigs: 1%
  • Hamsters: 1%
  • Tortoises/Turtles: 0.8%
  • Lizards: 0.5%
  • Domestic fowl: 0.4%
  • Snakes: 0.4%
  • Horses and ponies: 0.3%
  • Rats: 0.2%
  • Ferrets: 0.1%
  • Gerbils: 0.1%
  • Insects: 0.1%
  • Pigeons: 0.04%
  • Frogs and Toads: 0.04%
  • Mice: 0.03%

Certainly, a varied bunch – we have a menagerie going on in our homes! However, for tenants, ensuring your pets is an accepted member of the family with your landlords can be notoriously tricky. But with nearly 50% of households home to a furry (or feathery, or scaly) friend, is this a rule that landlords should be a little more flexible on?

A recent study by examined which London boroughs were most open to pets in properties, and the results were quite surprising:

ScoreBoroughNo. of available properties
that accept pets
1Kensington and Chelsea153
10Hammersmith and Fulham30
12Tower Hamlets29
21Waltham Forest18
25Richmond Upon Thames11
28Kingston Upon Thames6
30Barking and Dagenham3
33City of London1

Some boroughs were fairly flexible, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Westminster, Lambeth and Wandsworth all had a high number of properties available for tenants looking for a pet friendly home. However, at the other end of the scale, if you were house hunting in Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Sutton or the City of London with your furry friend in mind, you may find yourself with significantly less options.

But which landlords have the right idea? And if you choose to open your property to all creatures great and small, is there anything you can do to ensure that you don’t get bitten…

If your tenant has an existing pet and has come from another rented property, try and secure a previous landlord reference before you proceed. In some cases, a previous landlord may even be able to provide a reference for the pet in question – you may feel daft for asking, but now is the time to find out if the angelic looking puppy has a history of bad behaviour! Don’t forget to ask the previous landlord how long the tenant was with them for. Because of the lack of good quality property that is open to pets, once your tenant has found a suitable home for the whole family, they are likely to want to settle in for the long term – great news for them, their pet, and you.

Assess the suitability of your property for the type of pet your potential tenant has. If you are letting a one bedroom flat on the third flood with no access to outside space, question if it is fair to let this property to a tenant with a large dog. Not only is it unfair to the pup, but you are more likely to have damage caused to the property, and potentially complaints from neighbours. That said, a hamster is likely to be very content in a property like this! It is probably wise to meet the pet that you are agreeing to (where reasonable) before you say yes – bear in mind that one person’s ‘small dog’ could be another person’s Labrador….

Your tenancy agreement is an important document if you are letting a pet into your home – whilst there is no requirement to include them as a named tenant and carry out a Right to Rent check and reference, it’s useful to include a note about pets living in the property. Mention how you would proceed in instances such as if there were significant noise complaints from the neighbours, and stress that no additional pets should be permitted without your consent, and that you are agreeing to the animal living in the property as a pet and are not agreeing to commercial breeding taking place on the property (this would be classed as a business). Although it is difficult and may seem over-zealous, you should consider every eventuality if you can, it’s hard to change an agreement once it has been signed.

Whatever the size of the property, or the access to outside space, you should accept that accidents happen when animals are involved, especially when they are getting used to a new environment (and working out where the back door is)! Unfortunately, those accidents are likely to be on your carpets or flooring, so have a think about how you want to address this issue. Currently you could consider increasing the deposit slightly to counteract any hiccups, however once the tenant fee ban comes into play next year, the deposit will be capped at 6 weeks’, so you will be limited by law. At this stage, your best plan would be to ensure that your property is spotless when the tenant and their pet move in, with the condition backed up with a full inventory and photographs. That way, if any damage is caused you will have a firm document to back up any deductions that you need to make form the deposit. Without a solid inventory it will be very difficult to prove any damages, so it is vital that this document is secured at the start of the tenancy.

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