We are a nation of animal lovers. From furry friends to fowls and fish, it’s estimated that around 45% of all households in the UK own a pet of some description - and they’ve all got to live somewhere. But as more and more landlords begin to recognise the benefit of accessing a previously untapped market and allowing animals in their property, there are three key factors that agents marketing pet-friendly properties need to take into account.
Is it legal?
There are several laws that apply to pet owners in the UK, all of which have implications for renting to a tenant with an animal. Under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, for example, it’s illegal for anyone to own or keep a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Fila Brasilero (unless they can prove their dog is registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs). And the laws don’t just apply to dogs – owners of exotic and potentially dangerous animals like snakes or spiders are legally required to have a license to keep them. If your potential tenant doesn’t have the right kind of license for their pet, it’s best to avoid them and, in the case of illegal pets, report them to the police.
The power of a pet clause
Including a pet clause (or should that be claws?!) into a tenancy agreement, with specific details identifying the pet in question, should protect landlords against damage that the pet might cause. It will also prevent tenants from adding extra pets to their menagerie without seeking permission. It’s worth asking for a larger deposit and including a stipulation that tenants will agree to pay for the house to be professionally cleaned after they leave, in order to rid the house from any lingering pet smells that might put off the next tenants.
Landlords considering allowing pets onto their property should be encouraged to treat pets as an extra tenant – with all of the due diligence that implies. Pets should have a reference from the tenant’s previous landlord (if applicable) and the tenant should be able to provide information about the pet’s age and breed as well as details as to whether or not the pet has been neutered and whether it’s insured. It’s also worth enquiring what the tenant intends to do with the pet while they’re at work – some animals struggle to be left alone all day, which could cause problems with neighboring properties.
Prospective tenants who are unable to demonstrate they have detailed knowledge of their pet or a clear idea of how to handle them are unlikely to be good tenants, regardless of how many furry friends they bring with them. On the other hand, those with the facts about their animals at their fingertips have already gone half way to proving their responsibility and are likely to be just the kind of tenants you want.
For more advice on allowing pets into your property and taking the necessary precautions, why not download our free eBook?