One of the most common questions we are asked when tenants contact us regarding a property is if the landlord accepts pets. It’s a regular occurrence for landlords to outright refuse pets in their property, but if a Labour government ever get their way, landlords may have no choice.
So as a landlord, what are your options should you accept, or are forced to take on pets in your property?
First and foremost, you need to check if you can actually allow a pet in the property. This is mainly the case if you’re renting out a leasehold flat which states that pets are not permitted. You should also check on your mortgage and insurance policies to check whether or not they are permitted.
The next consideration is down to your personal choice; what type of animal you would be happy to accept into your property and whether or not it would be the right choice.
It’s worth mentioning that should a tenant require assistance from a guide dog, by law they must be permitted to accompany the tenant in the property. The positive in this circumstance however is that guide dogs are very well trained, and will rarely cause problems for your property.
On the subject of dogs, they are undoubtedly the most popular pet for homeowners and tenants in the UK, yet they can be amongst the most destructive. Their barking can also become irritant to neighbours.
To ensure both the dog and your property suit each other well, ensure the dog is well trained and is unlikely to be left alone for extended periods of time. Dogs Trust recommend not leaving a dog alone for anywhere over the four hour mark.
It goes without saying that realistically, large energetic dogs should not be kept in small flats whilst dogs with mobility problems should not be kept in upper storey flats without lifts.
Cats are generally far less trouble than dogs and can also be left unattended for a far lengthier period; days infact, so long as someone can come once a day to feed them.
Cats are very independent animals and like to roam around outside. So generally the property will need access to the outdoors and a cat flap. However some cats are happy living indoors – it really depends on the cat.
Budgies are the most popular pet bird in the UK, but there are many other birds kept as pets ranging from small finches to large parrots. Birds should not be left alone for lengthy periods of time due to their intelligent nature and requiring stimulation.
Budgerigars are the most popular pet bird in the UK but many other birds are kept ranging from small finches to large parrots.
They should not be left alone for long periods as they are intelligent animals which need stimulation.
There’s no denying that some birds can be extremely noisy and can also cause extensive messes with their feathers if they are permitted to roam free in the property.
The main priority when letting to tenants with pets is ensuring the animal(s) will be well cared for, and not left to fend for themselves which is where the issues tend to arise. Ensure necessary injections and flea treatments have been conducted. It’s also important to make sure that dogs and cats are microchipped and have collars with the animals name and address.
You also need to get the name and address of someone who will care for the animal if the tenant can’t – for example if they go into hospital. Otherwise, under law this will be your responsibility. Make sure you contact this person and make sure that they are happy to do this if necessary.
Much like tenants obtain references during the application process, seek out a referral (such as former landlords and personal referees) about the pet and its behaviour.
Landlords often take an additional deposit or ‘pet payment’ to cover any damage done by the pet, but once the tenant fee ban bill is passed this will no longer be possible. An alternative would be to increase the rent slightly. Tenants may well be agreeable to this if it means that they can keep their pet.
You also need to incorporate suitable terms and conditions into your tenancy agreement – for example requiring the tenant to care for the pet properly, not leave it alone for long periods, and to ensure that it is microchipped and given suitable inoculations etc.
It should be made clear, for example, that the pet should not cause a nuisance to neighbours and that if you suspect that the animal has been ill-treated, neglected or abandoned you will notify an appropriate animal welfare organisation.
It’s worth noting that people with pets often make excellent tenants. They are grateful to have found somewhere they can live with their pet and will usually want to stay a long time.
However, you need to be sure that the proposed pet is suitable for your particular property and ensure that your paperwork gives you sufficient protection should anything go wrong.