12 September 2020

Renting with pets: 5 top tips for finding the perfect pet-friendly home


Half the adult population in Britain currently owns a pet. And with adults in their mid-30s and mid-40s three times as likely to rent today as they were 20 years ago, there are a lot of tenants who need pet-friendly homes.

Traditionally, many landlords and letting agents have been hesitant to allow tenants to keep pets in their properties. Only 7% of landlords currently advertise homes as suitable for pets.

But with animal shelters and charities reporting surges in demand for puppies and kittens during lockdown, and an estimated 9.9 million dogs and 10.9 million cats living in the UK, finding suitable long-term shelter for both humans and their furry friends has become a hot topic.

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well-behaved pets in their homes. 

He unveiled government plans earlier this year to revise the model tenancy contracts for renters, which can be used as the basis of lease agreements made between tenants and landlords, to remove restrictions on well-behaved pets. 

"Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing," Jenrick said.

"So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property."

A revised model tenancy agreement is expected to be published by the government later this year.

Top tips for finding a suitable rental for you and your pet

1. Start planning early

Decent pet-friendly rental properties can be challenging to find. Not only will the tenancy agreement need to permit pets, your new home will need to tick certain boxes.

For example, if you have a cat, you’ll need to make sure the property is away from a main road and has a cat flap. For dog owners, making sure your new home is big enough and close to a park is likely to be a priority.

It makes sense to crack on with your property search a good eight weeks before you need to move out of your current home.

Try to be flexible in your search too. Expanding your search area or the type of property you want to live in should increase your chances of finding a new place for you and your pet to call 'home'.

The Zoopla search tool can help. Simply put in the area you want to live in and then click "filter results" to select "pets allowed". You can also add keywords such as “park” or “quiet” to your search criteria using the advanced search.

2. Make a good case for your pet

If you’ve found a landlord that is open to pets but needs a bit of persuading, there are things you can do to put them at ease.

For example, provide them with your pet’s medical details, such as latest vaccinations, flea and worming treatments and microchipping and neutering confirmation.

You can also pass on the contact information of your vet and someone who can look after your pet in the event of an emergency.

If you’ve previously rented, ask your former landlord for a reference to prove that your pet has been well behaved and caused no issues at the property. This will reassure prospective landlords that you are a responsible owner.

3. Amend the contract

The vast majority of rental contracts are Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements. These set out basic details such as the start date and length of the tenancy, the cost of rent and the notice you will be required to give if you want to leave.

The contract will also set out what you can and can't do in the property, for example decorate – or have a pet. 

The beauty of Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements is that they can be amended to suit both parties before you sign.

In this case, you could suggest that, while the tenancy agreement is amended to allow a pet, it also includes specific obligations around it such as keeping the property clean and free from unpleasant smells.

It could also include an agreement that you will cover the costs of a professional clean of the property when you move out or that you will allow regular inspections of the property during the course of the tenancy.

Alternatively, you could suggest paying a bigger deposit to cover potential costs of damage caused by your pet.

For example, if the landlord is asking for four weeks' rent as a deposit, suggest upping it to five weeks as this is the maximum they are permitted to take from you since the Tenant Fees Bill came into effect.

As long as the contract is an AST, whatever deposit you pay will be safeguarded in one of the government's three Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

Lastly, you may even agree to pay a slightly higher rent. Although, the landlord will need to specify clearly what the rent is with a pet, and without. 

4. Introduce your pet to your landlord

Another way to put your potential landlord’s mind at ease is to have them meet your pet in advance, although this is really only relevant with dogs.

Once the landlord has met your dog they can see how your animal interacts with strangers and how well behaved they are. If you are comfortable doing so, you could invite the landlord to your current home to prove you’re a responsible tenant and your pet has a good nature.

Even if you are dealing with a letting agent and not the landlord direct, their job is to find the most secure, reliable and appropriate tenant for the property. 

A tenant who pays the rent on time, is reasonable and looks after the property is the ideal scenario – even if they do have a dog.

5. Don’t keep a pet without consent

Always be upfront with your landlord about keeping pets in a property.

If they discover, through property inspections or, worse, through complaints from neighbours, that you are keeping a pet without consent, you could find yourself in trouble.

This is a breach of contract which is grounds to start an eviction process.

Thanks for reading.

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