It’s safe to say that we are a nation of pet lovers, and around 57% of a UK households are home to furry friends. However, some landlords in the past have been hesitant to allow tenants with pets. This means that pet owners have often struggled to find suitable accommodation to house both themselves and their pets and, in some cases, have no choice but to sadly say goodbye to their furry friends.

The new Renters Reform Bill has provided more protections for rental tenants with pets by not allowing landlords to have a blanket refusal on tenants with pets. Landlords must provide a reasonable answer on a case-by-case basis for not giving their consent to letting to a tenant with a pet. On the other side of things, the bill also discusses giving landlords the ability to put the responsibility of covering the costs of pet damage onto tenants by requiring them to take out special pet insurance. This way, the costs of replacing furniture and so on won’t fall on you as the landlord.

If you are keen on renting to tenants with pets but find they don’t have their own insurance covering pet damage, at CIA we also work closely with landlord insurance providers that offer coverage for pet damage.

Landlords intent on finding any way to dismiss any pet owners could potentially lose out on a great proportion of upstanding tenants. Of course, you still need to protect yourself and your property against any potential pet damage. That’s why we’re bringing you five effective tips to make renting to pet owners less stressful.

Image of two pets at home, a dog and a cat.

Are pet owners better tenants?

Before we get started on tips to make renting to pet owners a walk in the park, let’s address the big elephant in the room, “do pet owners make good tenants?” Or the better question, “why do landlords not allow pets?” There’s almost a taboo around renting to people who have pets. Many landlords are under the impression that if they take a chance on pet owners, their property will either be torn to shreds and/or turn into a pigsty. But this, in fact, couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is that pet owners generally make more responsible tenants as they are accustomed to the large responsibility of taking care of an animal. Not to mention, as it’s pretty difficult for pet owners to find a landlord willing to take them on in the first place, they will most likely stay at the property longer. This will help minimise void periods and increase your return on investment. Plus, some tenants will be willing to pay a little more to rent somewhere that is pet-friendly. So to answer the question, pet owners can make good tenants and, in some cases, they make the best tenants.

If you’re still unsure about whether or not you should allow pets to live in your rental property, hopefully, these steps will minimise any risk or concern.

Image of a happy couple at home with their dog.

Speak with prospective tenants about their pets

It’s a good idea to assess each tenant on a pet-by-pet basis, so to speak. Not all animals are the same; they have different temperaments, habits, needs and wants- just like humans. You should ask specific questions about the animal so that you can make an informed decision on whether the fluffy companion will be a good fit for your property.

You may want to discuss:

  • How well behaved is the tenant’s pet
  • How do they plan to look after their pet if they go away
  • Has the pet had any appropriate vaccinations or flea treatments

Get a pet reference

Tenants aren’t the only ones who may need a reference. If the prospective tenant has rented with a pet in the past, you can ask them to provide a pet reference from their previous landlord. Ideally, the landlord will be able to give you some insight on:

  • How responsible is the tenant as a pet owner
  • Whether or not there was any pet-related damage to the property
  • Whether the pet was a nuisance to neighbours
  • How long the tenant lived at the property with their pet

If, however, the tenant is unable to provide a pet reference from a previous landlord, a reference from a  vet could work instead.  Furthermore, a reference from the vet will help provide a clearer picture of the pet’s health, which is important when considering the risk of fleas and worms.

Image of a man playing with his dog at home with moving in boxes.

Add a pet clause

Consent for pets is in the default position, however, landlords still have the right to reject pet owners if they can provide a valid reason. Any objections must be delivered in writing within 28 days of an applicant’s written pet request.

That being said, if you decide to accept any pet requests, consider adding pet clauses to the tenancy agreement. For example, the tenant will agree to not keep any additional animals on the property without your written consent.  It may be a good idea to take tenants through the pet agreements to avoid any confusion or doubt about their responsibilities.  This can be done through a simple face-to-face conversation or a quick phone call.

Check your lease

Before you make anything official, it may be worth checking your leasehold terms. Though the Model Tenancy Agreement does not allow landlords to have a ‘no pet’ rule, freeholders may still be permitted to include a restrictive covenant regarding pets. If this is the case, you will need to request for your lease to be changed.

To change your leasehold agreement, you’ll need to speak with the freeholder or managing agents. If your property is in a building with only a few other lets, managing agents will likely be more willing to change the terms of the lease or will give you written permission to allow pets by ‘special variation’.  Whereas, if your property is in a larger building, changing the terms of your lease may be a little more difficult, as the other leaseholders might take issue with any pets being allowed to live in the building.  Bear in mind that, like landlords, freeholders can refuse your request if they provide a valid reason.

Check your landlord insurance

Sometimes no matter how confident you are about renting your property to pet owners, things may go slightly wrong. To be on the safe side, check that your landlord insurance covers accidental pet damage. If it doesn’t, consider getting additional cover or taking out a new policy that will cover accidental damage caused by pets.

If you’re considering renting to pet owners but don’t have adequate provisions to cover potential pet damage, contact our landlord insurance team today to get a quote. We can help you find a policy that will give you peace of mind for when you have pet owner tenants.

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