Whatever your opinion on pets, it’s a fact that about half the population keeps an animal of some sort and around a quarter of those who are renting have a pet. This number is likely to increase as people stay renting for longer and longer. Getting a pet is all part of settling down for some people, apparently.
So what are the pros and cons of letting to tenants with pets?
First of all, the pros:
- as the majority of landlords refuse to accept pets, especially larger animals like dogs, you are likely to find it easier to let your property if you are more relaxed about housing a pet
- your tenants are likely to stay for longer, if only because they’ll find it hard to move on with Fido in tow
But on the downside..
- there’s a reason why most rental ads say “No Pets”, they can cause a lot of damage – think chewed furniture, scratched doors, holes in the garden and sofas and beds covered in hair
- it can be harder to re-let a property as the presence of a pet is likely to make it more messy/smelly – even a little hamster can make a house stink
- dogs can annoy the neighbours with their barking
- the presence of a dog can make it awkward to do viewings when the tenant isn’t there
So, it looks like a no brainer, there are twice as many cons as pros to letting to tenants with pets. However, if you’re a pet-lover yourself or a sympathetic soul, or if you’re struggling to let your property and want to appeal to a wider audience, you might want to consider allowing tenants to keep a pet anyway.
In this case, you should stick a pet clause in the tenancy agreement.
A pet clause will make it clear that the tenant is responsible for any damage caused by their pet and they will have to make sure the property is adequately cleaned at the end of the tenancy to remove all hair, smells and any other mess caused by their dog/cat/house rabbit/budgie etc. It will also lay down certain rules, such as not leaving a dog home alone for more than a few hours a day and not allowing the pet to breed on the premises.
You can download a free pet clause from letswithpets.org.uk
You could also include a clause in the tenancy agreement to state that the property must be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy and receipts provided as proof.
Also, it’s a good idea to take a higher deposit to cover any additional cleaning required if the tenant doesn’t fulfill their obligations. Landlords who let to tenants with pets often take a deposit of the equivalent of 8 weeks’ rent instead of 6.
If you agree to your tenant keeping a dog, make sure you meet the pooch first to check you’re comfortable with its size and behaviour. If the tenant is moving with the dog from another property, speak to the previous landlord to make sure it hasn’t caused any trouble or any damage.
Finally, before deciding to accept a pet, if your property is leasehold you’ll need to check the head lease to make sure it doesn’t prohibit pets. Pets are usually not allowed in blocks of flats, although you might be able to speak to the freeholder to see if any restriction can be relaxed, especially if you’re aware that other residents in the building have pets.