We are a nation of pet lovers with about 40 percent of UK households owning an animal companion. Homeowners have little problem welcoming man’s best friend in, providing they have the space and the inclination.
However, despite there being nine million dogs and eight million cats living in this country, finding a property to let can prove difficult for renters with pets.
According to a survey by the Dogs Trust, 78 percent of pet owners have had trouble finding rented accommodation that accepts their four-legged friends.
The reason that landlords are reluctant to have cats, dogs or other types of animals in their properties is the fear of them causing damage, being a nuisance to neighbours, the smells they may leave behind, and the possibility for other problems such as flea infestations. This stance is currently legal, and it would be well within a landlord’s rights to include a restriction on pets in the tenancy agreement.
However, it could be argued that landlords and letting agencies, which ban pet owners from their properties, are disregarding a significant potential customer base.
The Dog Trust statistic would suggest that a large proportion of landlords would rather have their properties lie empty between tenancies than have a pet owner move in.
In fact, the Dogs Trust, which is behind a LetswithPets campaign, has come up with a solution to allay any worries landlords may have about a pet’s behaviour having a detrimental impact on a home they are renting out.
It suggests that prospective tenants are asked to provide a reference from a previous landlord and if they have not rented before to get one from their vet.
Another piece of advice from the campaign for landlords, who are considering renting out to a tenant with a pet, is to take out an insurance policy that would cover any accidental damage caused by a tenant’s pet.
With such a high percentage of pet owners facing difficulties finding a home to rent they may think it is worth the risk to sneak their pet into a rental property.
However, they need to be aware, that if a tenancy agreement prohibits a pet then they could end up being evicted if the landlord finds out as it would mean they were breaching the terms of the agreement.
It also should be noted that under the Equality Act 2010, assistance dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, and dogs for disabled people, legally are permitted in a rental property.
We spoke to Ben Quaintrell, Managing Director of My Property Box, who pointed out that landlords also need to be aware that there may be restrictions about keeping a pet if the house or flat they have bought is leasehold.
“If you own a leasehold property, it is important to study the terms and conditions of the lease to ascertain if there are any clauses that would prevent the tenant owning a pet.
“It may be that certain types of pets are forbidden and so it is important to look out for clauses which may read – ‘not to keep any dog, cat, bird or live animal that may be a nuisance or annoyance to the lessee or occupiers of adjacent properties.
It also should be noted that some leasehold conditions, while allowing pets, may limit the number or type of animals allowed.”
Please note: This article is intended as guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.