Over the past 4-5 years, I’ve only had one tenant with a pet (which was a dog), and that was because it was forced upon me. Initially, my tenant didn’t move in with the mutt, it happened a year or so after she moved in.
One day I got a frantic phonecall from her, screeching down the phone, feeding me with a story about her ex-husband, who was on the verge of kicking their family Staffordshire Bull Terrier out of the house because he didn’t have time to look after her anymore. So I was basically left in a position where my tenant was willing to find another property to rent unless I allowed the dog to become a permanent resident. The bond between human and pet can often be unparalleled, right?
In retrospect, my tenant was a bit of a knob for putting me in a position like that. However, it just goes to show how passionate some people are about their pets. And, when someone is THAT passionate about their pet, the pet is usually well behaved and maintained. With that in mind, I took the gamble and allowed my tenant to move the beast into the property.
Fortunately, things worked out well. The dog was clean, well behaved, extremely friendly, and actually quite lovable.
When tenants/landlords discuss “pets”, they’re typically referring to dogs and cats. Dogs are the most common pets in the UK, and if there’s any type of household pet that is capable of destroying a house, my money is on a dog. Smaller pets like fish, hamsters and rabbits aren’t usually a problem. On that basis, I’m going to focus this article with the assumption we’re all here because we want to discuss tenants, landlords and dogs!
So, let’s look at the pro’s and con’s for allowing pets (typically, dogs), and you can make up your own mind…
Advantages of Landlords allowing pets
- Many landlords don’t allow pets, so finding one which does can often be a challenge, which means that landlords that allow pets can often ask for more rent.
- Allowing pets opens up a lot wider audience, so you’re significantly increasing your chances of finding tenants. According to a recent survey by the Dogs Trust, 78% of pet owners have experienced difficulty finding accommodation which accepts pets. And according to ‘Pet Friendly Rentals’ by not accepting pets, you will be decreasing your potential market by 50%.
- Tenants that are lucky enough to find a landlord that accepts pets will often make every effort to be an exemplary tenant so their tenancy agreement can be renewed. It’s a good hook to find a long-term tenant.
- Dogs are a good form of security as they tend to respond badly to strangers, so they will form an extra layer of protection.
- Pets can be destructive and messy, especially if they aren’t looked after properly.
- Pets can smell, especially if their hygiene is neglected by their owners. From my personal experience, most dogs and cats leave behind a scent that are usually immune to the pet-owner. Just saying.
- Pets can be disturbing towards neighbours e.g. dogs barking at unsocial hours. It’s important for landlords to keep healthy relationships with neighbours.
- Many landlords are hesitant to allow pets as they may affect subsequent tenants who may have allergies.
- After a tenant with a pet moves out, there maybe an extra financial cost involved for cleaning the property thoroughly.
- Pets that don’t receive regular treatment are at high risk of catching fleas, which can quickly infest the property.
- If you’re letting a furnished property, be wary that pets (especially cats, dogs and rabbits) are known to be destructive towards furniture.
- It might be worth meeting the pet and focus on how it acts around the tenant. It will also be a good opportunity to see how well behaved and healthy the animal is.
- You may want to ask to see copies of your tenants pets treatment records from their vet so you’re assured that the animal is properly taken care of. This will reduce problems like infestation.
- Try and get a reference from a previous landlord, where the tenant has lived with the pets.
- Consider the suitability of the pet for your particular property. For example, a small dog in a small house may be fine, but not a large one.
- Take into consideration the lifestyle of the tenants; if they’re going to be at work all day (or night), bear in mind the dog/pet will most likely be left alone at home during that time.
- Non pet-friendly landlords will demand anywhere between 4 – 6 weeks’ rent for a deposit.
- Pet-friendly landlords will demand anywhere between 6 – 8 weeks’ rent for a deposit.
- If you plan on allowing pets, it’s advised to get a Tenancy Agreement contract which specially has clauses for pets. There will be special clauses stating what the pet-owners responsibilities are e.g. ensuring the tenant is responsible for keeping litter trays clean. Here is a useful blog post on Tenancy Agreements and Pet Clauses
- Good tenancy agreements will have a section to record a name and address and contact details in case of emergency. Alternatively, if the tenant goes on holiday.
- If your tenant’s pet is causing a problems and breaching the terms in the tenancy agreement, then a Section 8 Form can be served to remove the tenant and their pet.
- Landlords can request for a non returnable pet payment, which will cover the costs of a professional clean after the tenant moves out. This can be specified in the tenancy agreement.
- It’s worth going over the conditions in the tenancy agreement regarding the conditions relating to pets, so the tenant is clear about what is expected.
- Most landlords require a higher deposit where the tenant has a pet which is potentially destructive e.g. dog or cat. This is especially true when properties are furnished.
- Do a thorough Property Inventory so there’s no confusion about what kind of state the property is in before the tenant/pet moved in. This is crucial.
- Some landlords get tenants with pets to cover the cost of professionally cleaning the property once they have moved out. This can be written into the tenancy agreement- here’s more on pet clauses in tenancy agreements.
- As already mentioned, it’s becoming extremely difficult for tenants to find landlords that allow pets. So it’s important that when you’re marketing your property for rent, you clarify that you do accept pets. This may drastically increase the level of inquiries you receive.
- Since cats and dogs are the most common household pets in the UK, make sure you specify that you accept cats and dogs, and any other type of animal which you think will improve your campaign.
- If you have any strict conditions (e.g. you require proof that the pet gets regular checkups at the vets), it maybe worth mentioning it, so you filter the unwanted applicants.
- Don’t renew the tenancy after the fixed term by serving a section 21 notice. This is the cleanest and easiest solution, but it may mean waiting several months for the end date.
- The second option is based on the assumption you have a “no pet” clause that’s been breached, in which case you may have grounds for eviction and can therefore serve a Section 8 notice.
However, going down the eviction/section 8 route may not always work in the landlord’s favour if the tenant isn’t willing to vacate the premises with their pet, which means a legal battle maybe imminent.
From what I understand, a landlord can only rely a ‘no pet’ clause if it is reasonable/fair to do so, which largely depends on the type of pet in question. For example, a landlord will be with in his rights to refuse a large dog, especially in a small property. However, refusing a fish, for example, might be deemed “unfair”, so it’s doubtful a Judge would favour the landlord’s case, despite the no-pet clause.
- If you evict a tenant and an animal is left behind in the property, it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with it.
- It’s important to make quarterly inspections of the property whether you allow pets or not, but especially if your tenant does have pets, so you can monitor how well behaved and clean the animal is.
- You can use the tenant’s deposit to cover cost of cleaning the property if it isn’t returned in the same state as it was when he/she moved in.
- Regular landlord building and content insurance policies don’t usually cover potential pet damage, so you may want to get additional insurance.
- Whatever the animal in question, do your own research on the breed, including their genetic personality and behavioural characteristics.
- If you have a leasehold property, check the T&C’s of the lease, because some state that animals are prohibited from residing at the property.
- Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into accepting pets if you’re not comfortable with it.
Be warned, sob stories from tenants are commonly plentiful in order to sneak pets into the vicinity i.e. my father is terminally ill, he can’t looked after our family dog anymore.
- I’m a big fan of 6 month tenancy agreements for new tenancies (and then permanently allowing it remain a periodic tenancy) – I think all landlords/tenants should initially strike up a 6 month deal to “see how it goes”, especially if pets are involved.
That way, if things take a turn for the worst, you can at least end the tenancy on mandatory grounds pretty quickly without too much fuss.
Disadvantages of Landlords allowing pets
Before accepting a tenant with pets
How much deposit should landlords take from tenants with pets?
Based on my experience, the typical rates are as follows:
However, since the introduction of the “Tenant Fees Act 2019” on the 1st June 2019, landlords in England (regardless of whether their tenants have pets or not) are capped at taking no more than five weeks’ rent for the tenancy deposit where the annual rent is less than £50,000. There is six weeks’ rent cap where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.
Tenancy Agreements & pet clauses
Marketing your property as pet-friendly
My tenant has a pet/dog without my permission
Common scenario, and it can be tricky to deal with.
Many tenants ignore the “no pet” clauses, both intentionally and unintentionally.
First, you need to decide if you’re going to accept the change in circumstances. While many tenants do sneak in pets through the backdoor, it isn’t always a disaster, and many landlords just accept the reality of the situation and manage to walk away relatively unscathed. But that’s usually the case when the tenant has a proven track record of paying rent on time, keeping the property clean and maintained etc.
It’s also worth bearing in mind whether the pet is suitable for the property- that’s something pet-owners are often oblivious to. If it’s apparent the premises is unsuitable for the pet(s) in question, you may want to be led by your moral compass.
In any case, decide whether you want in or out.
If you want out (i.e. you’re unhappy with the situation)
Before raging like a bull in a china shop, it’s advised to try the diplomatic approach. If you have a “no pet” clause, gently remind the tenant of it, and kindly request them to remove the pet from the premises.
Your gentle prodding may be enough to get the result you want (but often not).
If not, you need to decide on whether you want to end the tenancy with your tenant. If so, you typically have two options:
Points to consider
I firmly believe that a dog is only as good as its owner. If you have a misbehaved dog, then you probably have a poor tenant. That’s why it’s extremely important to meet the pet and it’s owner before signing into an agreement. Judge for yourself.
If you care careful with your selection, there is no reason why tenants with pets should be problematic. Even if the pet does cause irritation to the property, that’s what the security deposit is there for. Additionally, a good tenancy agreement that has the appropriate clauses for pets should protect you from most scenarios.
I think the most appealing aspect about allowing pets is the larger audience you’re likely to attract. Essentially, you could find tenants a lot quicker if you allow pets, which will ultimately save you money.
Do you allow pets?
Just out of curiosity, do you, or would you accept pets as a landlord?
Are you a tenant with a pet? Please share your story i.e. how difficult/easy was it to find a landlord that accepts pets?
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.