Pet Allergies in Rented Property

There are many good reasons for a landlord having a pet-friendly policy – more rental applicants to choose from and lower tenant turnover to name but a few – however many landlords choose not to allow pets, despite it becoming quite difficult to enforce a blanket pet ban. Pets should be considered on a case-by-case basis, but it’s easy to see why many landlords are dubious. Pets in the home can cause damage and can potentially be a nuisance for neighbours.

Along with that of course is the issue of pet allergies. It’s always possible that tenants with pet allergies may move into a property where pets have previously lived and suffer an allergic reaction. To prevent this, landlords may try and enforce a no-pets policy but it can often be difficult to stop tenants bringing in their furry friends to a rental property.

What are pet allergies?

Pet allergies are a reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva or urine. Most commonly, people react to animal hair. The most common culprits of causing allergies are cats and dogs, which are also the two most common household pets.

Reactions could be anything from moderate discomfort with an itchy nose and eyes, sneezing and coughing, to an asthma attack. Some people may also experience skin symptoms such as raised, red patches of skin, eczema and itchiness.

How can I avoid issues with pet allergies?

If you are a pet-friendly landlord, or if you suspect a pet has been living in your rental, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of a future allergy-suffering tenant experiencing a flare up. Animal hair can be very difficult to get out of carpets and particularly sofas, however it’s definitely not impossible and if the property is adequately cleaned, vacuumed and aired between tenants then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If there are stubborn traces of fur, you should be able to get them out by using professional cleaners in which can be quite an expense. You could ask for a higher deposit from tenants with pets to cover this extra cost. Most tenants will be happy to pay this if it means that they can live with their beloved pet.

If you do want to allow pets in your rental, you might also consider replacing any carpets with hard flooring such as laminate or vinyl. That way, you can keep the property much cleaner and as free of animal hair as possible for the next tenancy. There’s no guarantee that taking these measures will clear your property of animal traces and that an allergy sufferer won’t have a reaction of some degree, but it’s important to do what you can to minimise the risk.

If you’re renting to pets, make sure you specify that the property is pet-friendly when advertising your rental property to tenants. Pet allergy sufferers probably won’t be willing to take the risk, so you’ll discourage them and avoid an allergy situation whilst encouraging applications from pet lovers (and there’s a lot of those around).

How can I stop people from keeping pets in my rental?

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for tenants to break their tenancy agreement and to keep pets secretly in a rental. If you’ve discussed the topic with a tenant and decided to not allow their pet, but you’re worried or suspicious about them breaking their tenancy agreement, then the only thing you can really do is make sure that you keep on top of your quarterly inspections and look out for any signs of a pet. Keep an eye out for fur in the carpet or on furniture, bite and chew marks on furniture and scratch marks and pulled threads from carpets. If you’re really suspicious, you could also enquire with the neighbours to see whether they’ve heard any barking or seen any pets.

The truth is that even if you try and avoid renting to pets, there’s a chance you’ll still pay the price of having animals in your rental property without receiving any of the benefits. If you’re worried about allergy sufferers and the problems you could face if someone has a reaction in your property, make sure to specify the history of the property and whether it’s housed any furry tenants. Get the clean up operation right and you shouldn’t encounter any problems.

Dogs Trust has set up the Lets with Pets website which provides lots of useful information and guidance for pet owners, landlords and letting agents so be sure to give it a read and get clued up.