How to conduct a successful property viewing

I want to let to a tenant with a pet, what do I need?

Question

I’m a huge animal lover, and am more than happy to let my property to tenants with pets – however I am realistic about the potential pitfalls. Is there anything I need to do to protect myself, my property, my tenant and their pet throughout the lettings process?

Answer

It's great that you are open to letting your property to a tenant with a pet – over 12 millions households in the UK own a pet, so you are closing your door to a huge section of the market if don’t want to consider this option. It is likely that a tenant who is able to find a home that accepts their pet will want to put donw roots and stay for the long term, o not only will you be offering a property to a much-loved family pet, but hopefully you will also find a long-term tenant, who’s happy to have found an ideal home!

However, you are right to consider the all aspects. The last thing you want to do is have a bad experience and be left feeling negative about the idea. Before you advertise your property as ‘Pets Accepted’, there are a few thing you could consider to prepare yourself for the technicalities of letting to four-legged tenant:

  • If your property has a leasehold agreement, make sure this doesn’t have any restrictions with regards to keeping pets within the property. Some are very particular about pets, and if this is the case you would be in very hot water!
  • Make sure your inventory is thorough at the start of the tenancy. Normal wear and tear throughout the duration of any tenancy is expected, but an excitable puppy may case other types of damage that is not generally expected to constitute wear and tear, so do make sure that everything is documented.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to take a slightly higher deposit. Although a deposit cap is imminent (likel next spring) this will still allow you to take a six week deposit. Whilst many people are happy to take four weeks, do consider the extra damage that could be caused by four extra paws (possibly muddy ones)!

Additionally, you could consider adding an additional pet clause to your tenancy agreement. This could be amendment to the existing document if you have an exiting tenant who wants to bring a pet into the home, or built into the agreement if it is a new tenant. It could include clauses such as:

  • Tenants are responsible for their pets in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. If the landlord believes that a pet kept in the property has been neglected or abandoned, they will report it to an appropriate animal welfare organisation.
  • Tenants must not leave their pets in the property when they are away unless clear arrangements have been made for their care. - Dogs should not be left alone in the property for more than 4 hours at a time. Tenants must ensure that their dogs will not cause damage to the property if they are left unsupervised.
  • All pets kept at the property must be vaccinated and regularly treated for fleas and worms (if appropriate). Tenants are responsible for keeping all areas of the property clean and free from parasites, such as fleas. - Tenants must ensure their pets do not cause a nuisance to neighbours. This includes excessive noise. Dogs must be kept under control and on a lead in any public places, communal areas and walkways.
  • Pets must not be allowed to foul inside the property, except for caged pets and pets trained to use a litter tray. Any pet faeces must be removed immediately from the garden or outside areas and disposed of safely and hygienically. - Any animal listed in the schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 may not be kept at the property. Any dog listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 may not be kept at the property with the exception of dogs registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
  • Tenants may not breed animals or offer for sale any animal in the property. - Tenants who wish to obtain an additional pet after moving into the property must first apply for permission in writing to the landlord.
Finally, do remember that should the worst happen, and your tenant abandons a pet in your property, you are responsible for the animal. In this instance, your local animal protection society should be your first call (RSPCA in England and Wales –0300 1234 999, SSPCA in Scotland – 03000 999 999, USPCA in Northern Ireland – 028 3025 1000). They will be able to attend the property and take the animal to a safe location, making sure that it receieves vetinary treatment if necersaary.

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