Honourable and personal residential letting experts

2Feb

Renting with a pet: how the government is pushing pet friendly rental properties

No pets please, we are British

Pet friendly rental properties with Maxine Lester Lettings

Announced on the 28th January 2021 by the Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, the new government guidelines for landlords under their new Model Tenancy Agreement which states that landlords can no longer issue a blanket bans on pets in rental properties.   Instead, consent for pets will be the default position, and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason for the decision. That objection will need to be reasonable and the fact that you don’t want pets in the property will not be counted as a reasonable excuse.  Whilst this is guideline at the present time, clearly the Government are looking to bring this into legislative law at some point, so it is worth being aware of!

You can read the Government’s announcement here.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:

“We are a nation of animal lovers and over the last year more people than ever before have welcome pets into their lives and homes.  But it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.  Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords. This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords.”

Looked on a controversial by some, the new model tenancy agreement goes against the grain for many landlords, who feel that allowing pets into a property is an automatic problem.  Debates since the announcement have been fierce, and yet, at Maxine Lester Lettings & Property Management, we have been helping people to rent homes fro the last 15 years and at last count had set up more than 6000 tenancies!

So why do we think Landlords are so anti-pets?

There may be some landlords who are just not pet lovers, or who have an allergy themselves and, therefore, wish to steer clear.  However, we think in the majority, the problem lies in all of the horror stories about rental properties being left in a terrible condition when tenants vacate.  Let’s face it, horror stories do have much more appeal than the happy ever after version, which, actually, is the majority of the case! We are a nation of pet lovers and the national pandemic has caused a lot of people to want a companion to ease their mental health anxiety. If it means that, by accepting pets into your home you will have a happier tenant, what is the problem?

From our data, we can confidently say

  • that the vast majority of tenancies where a pet was allowed in the home, has led to a significantly greater tenancy length.
  • that homes with a pet have been just as clean and in good condition as those without – actually no difference at all.
  • that the exception where there is an issue can be handled by pet insurance very swiftly, much easier than negotiating a deposit dilapidations.

On behalf of our landlords we are always looking for the perfect tenant:  Someone who pays the rent on time (so that the mortgage – where applicable – can be paid on time); someone who stays for a long time (so we don’t have to deal with void periods and the cost of the change over from tenants); and someone who enjoys living in their home – and, generally speaking, a happy tenant will look after their home much better than someone who is unhappy!

Market research on tenant pet owners

A few years ago we carried out a rental market survey and looked at the number of people requesting a rental property which accepted a pet (cat or dog) and the result was 82% of applicants wanted to own or already owned a pet.

We also looked at how many properties we had on our lettings books during this time that allowed pets, it came out at a measly 27%.

We could also see the supply and demand factor coming into play – the properties which allowed pets gained higher rentals by an average of 9% (like for like).

So what is our advice to landlords?

We are certainly not advocating that an Alsatian or a large dog could live in a one bed flat with no garden, (that would certainly be a valid reason to not accept a pet).  We do, however, think that the benefits of pet rentals can actually outweigh the negatives, so why not consider the following:

Pet Referencing

It’s a good idea to ask prospective tenants to provide you with a reference for their pet from a previous landlord. If they have not rented with their pets before, you could ask for a reference from their veterinary surgeon but please bear in mind that there may be some circumstances in which tenants cannot provide a reference.  It is always advisable to ask for photos of the pet and details of the microchip number, breed, age etc – that way you can judge the size and ‘liveliness’ of the pet and determine how it will fit into your rental home.

Check out the Dogs Trust pet reference information.

Reference from a previous landlord:

  • How long did the tenant live in the previous property with their pets?
  • Which pets did they own at that time?
  • Does the referee consider the tenant to be a responsible pet owner?
  • Were the tenant’s pets well behaved?
  • Did their pets cause any damage to the property?
  • Did their pets cause a nuisance to neighbours or visitors?

Ask the Vet

If the reference is to be provided by a veterinary surgeon, it should cover the following points:

  • Are the tenant’s pets generally well behaved?
  • Does the veterinary surgeon consider the tenant to be a responsible pet owner?
  • Does the tenant provide routine preventive health care, such as vaccinations and flea treatments, for their pets (when appropriate)?

Forward thinking renovations

When your rental property is due for renovation or refurbishment, why not make a change from materials which are not as pet friendly to those which will give more longevity between refreshing if you are going to allow pets on your tenancy?

  • Vinyl flooring or vinyl tiles are popular options for pet owners as they are cost-effective and highly durable.
  • Tiles work well with pets as they won’t show scratches easily and allow for spills and accidents to be cleaned up without any problems. If your budget stretches, you could install underfloor heating or provide rugs in the living area.
  • Carpets are usually not an ideal choice for pets rentals as they can damage, they show stains and harbour odours (let’s face it, pets can have accidents!). Maybe consider only laying carpets in bedrooms where pet access is limited.

Our conclusion

Protection of your asset is paramount to being a successful landlord, but so is protecting your income.  In our opinion your income is very dependent upon you having a happy tenant, and, hopefully, a long-term tenant.  And, let’s be honest, surely having to replace carpets or redecorate your asset is just part of running your property business?

If you would like to know more about our pet policy for landlords and tenants, please get in touch here.