Image of 2 dogs.

The Renters Reform Bill will ensure landlords cannot unfairly turn down a tenant’s request to have a pet in their home, and tenants will be able to challenge unfair decisions.

We all know that pets can sometimes cause damage to homes, in fact, dogs alone are estimated to cause at least £1.5 billion in property damage in this country every year.  That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of ways that you can safeguard yourself against pet damage and costly repairs though. The reform bill also enables landlords to require tenants to have their our insurance covering pet damage, putting the responsibility onto the tenant for any damages caused in the property.

How do I know if a tenant’s pet will cause damage?

As much as we wish we could give you the formula, there’s no way of knowing how a pet is going to behave in your rented property. No two pets are the same but there are some tell-tale signs that you can look out for that might give you an idea of how much trouble an animal might turn out to be in your property.

Image of a dog standing on a sofa.

Cats are pretty low risk in terms of damage, although they do have a tendency to scratch furniture and curtains if they are not given scratching posts and toys to keep them entertained, so it’s advisable to check with the tenant that these are available to the cat. As for birds, rabbits, hamsters, fish and reptiles, damage should be minimal if any. It’s important to be warier when it comes to dogs.

When dogs are left alone for long periods of time, they can become bored or anxious which can often trigger destructive behaviour. The Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than four hours at a time, so definitely find out as much as you can about the tenant’s lifestyle and working hours and how their dog fits into this.

Also, perhaps arrange to meet the dog beforehand so that you can get an idea of its characteristics. If it is friendly, well looked after and appears to be well-behaved, then you shouldn’t have any issues with damage.

What can I do to minimise the risk of pet damage?

Firstly, make sure that you or the tenant have adequate insurance provisions for potential pet damage, as this is not usually covered by standard insurance policies such as contents insurance and landlord insurance. Definitely double-check this with your provider before agreeing to a pet tenancy. Arguably the main concern for many people when it comes to pet damage is the money they might lose buying replacement furniture or carpets or making repairs. For this reason, many landlords request a higher deposit – six weeks’ worth of rent instead of the usual four – when taking on a tenant with a pet, particularly a dog.

Image of a can on a kitchen counter top in a home.

Property inspections

You should be doing quarterly inspections regardless, but these are all the more important when you have an animal living in your property. It’s one of the only ways you’ll know if the pet in question is causing any damage. Regular checks mean that you’ll be able to spot anything untoward early on and resolve it before it goes too far. In the same way that you would keep an inventory to track fair wear and tear, you might also want to do the same to prove any possible pet damage or scratch marks.

Carrying out your regular property inspections should put your mind at ease as you hopefully realise that the pet is being perfectly well behaved! Just remember to always give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice before carrying out an inspection. And if all these precautions haven’t reassured you, you can always try and get a reference from a previous landlord in regards to the pet.

Is there anything else I should be aware of when renting to tenants with pets?

In recent years, there have been campaigns to strengthen the rights of tenants to keep a pet in their rented property,  hence the Rent Reform Bills changes. The tenancy agreement may say that pets aren’t allowed. however, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 prohibits “unfair terms” in a contract. This means an outright ban on keeping pets in a tenancy agreement might be struck down if challenged in a court. There are plans for the need of evidence that the animal in question is a nuisance in order for permission to be refused.

Image of a sleeping puppy.

Many landlord would lean on the side of the pros outweighing the cons when it comes to renting to tenants with pets. You may be able to charge a bit more rent and a pet-friendly rental is highly valued, so tenants could jump at the chance to secure a tenancy. They’re also more likely to be loyal and stick around for as long as you’ll have them and their pet.

Interested in taking out a specialised landlord insurance policy with comprehensive coverage from an experienced brokerage? Get a landlord insurance quote from us today or contact us at CIA Landlords today by calling 01788 818 670 or emailing

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