Having a pet can be extremely fulfilling. Whether you’re a single person living alone, a couple, or a family, a pet such as a cat, dog or even something more exotic like a reptile can greatly enhance your life. I’ve always had pets from a young age and when I moved out of my mother’s house I was really looking forward to the opportunity to get my own dog. As someone who suffers from anxiety, having a dog has always helped me more than any other form of therapy. So first I want to talk about the reasons why a landlord would want to rent to someone with pets.
Why should a landlord consider a tenant with a pet?
Pets increase peoples mental and physical health – Pets are an important part of the family to some people. They can be support animals that massively help with mental health. They can encourage getting outside and exercising, which helps both mental and physical health. When a landlord considers a family with a pet, you should be considering it as a basic need that improves that families quality of life. I think as people we’d all like to see others living their best lives and want to help people be happy and meet their needs. But as a landlord, you might be worried that allowing pets will have negative consequences for you.
Tenants with pets are incentivized towards being responsible – A tenant with a pet is often massively incentivized to meet your needs as a landlord, because the last thing they want is to breach their contact and be evicted due to noise complaints or damage. It will be incredibly difficult for them to find a new tenancy that allows pets quickly, so this naturally means they’re more likely to want to be responsible pet owners, to keep your happy and the house in good condition so that the lease is renewed. Make sure you always compare landlord insurance and know you’re protected. Even if a tenant doesn’t have pets, they can cause damage and be irresponsible so it’s important to have the right insurance to give you peace of mind.
Tenants with pets are likely to want a long term lease – Leading on from the above, a tenant with a pet is looking for security. Finding a landlord who is open to pets can be very challenging. If you’re looking for a long-term tenant, then renting to someone with a pet can lead to a three, five or even longer year tenancy. This means you get a good tenant for a long period, avoiding your property being empty or the risk of the next tenant not being as responsible as your existing one. Long term tenancies are a win win for both landlords and renters with pets.
You know your tenant is honest and responsible for asking – When you rent, there’s always a chance you get a tenant who simply doesn’t tell you. By giving permission for a pet, you’re establishing a relationship of trust and honesty between you and the tenant. This avoids them hiding having a pet, and means if they were to decide to get a second pet, they’d come to you and have an honest conversation rather than sneaking it in. Honesty in any relationship is really important, even landlords and tenants. Consider the fact that your tenant is being honest and wants to work with you to find a solution that makes everyone happy as a sign of a good tenant.
As a Renter, what should you do to help your landlord make the decision to agree to your pets?
Talk to the Landlord Direct – It’s very helpful to reach the landlord directly if you want to rent with pets. Agencies are often not very flexible as they’re managing a lot of listings for a lot of different people and you’re removing the personal, human element. Asking an agency if you can have the details can occasionally work, but in many cases you’ll need to search private advertisement to find a landlord that’s renting direct or has listed their details for contact. Once you’ve contacted the landlord, make a good argument as to why you should be allowed to have a pet.
Be willing to pay a larger security deposit – One of the main reasons that landlords don’t want to rent to people with pets is the fear of damage. No matter how amazing you think your cat or dog is, there’s no denying that they can cause damage. They can scratch or chew furniture, toilet accidents can result in stains or smells and landlords have to worry about things like being left with a house that has fleas. All these things will cost money for the landlord to fix. By putting up a larger security deposit you give the landlord the security that if things do need addressing at the end of the tenancy, they have the resources available to do it. The landlord still has to follow the security deposit rules and there are restrictions on how much they can ask for, where it’s stored and how they return it. But having it there gives your landlord peace of mind.
Show you’re a responsible pet owner – Think about your responsibilities. Landlords aren’t being unreasonable most of the time when they refuse pets, they’re just worried that there’s going to be a problem. Reassure them that your dog or cat regularly sees a vet and is on a routine course of flea and worming treatment, so fleas aren’t going to be an issue. If you have a dog, consider how often you’ll be leaving the dog alone, and whether your dog barks, and try to re-assure your landlord. Noise complaints can be a big problem for a landlord, so try to see it from their point of view, analyse what complaints might occur and re-assure them that you’re a responsible pet owner who won’t let these things be a problem. If you work from home for example, you have a good case that you won’t be leaving the animal unattended, which means much less potential for noise complaints or damage.
Don’t be tempted to sneak a pet in without permission – I know how tempting it can be to sneak an animal in without your landlords permission. After all, you probably feel like you’re a responsible pet owner and your landlord is being unreasonable. But if you don’t have permission and you’re found out – which is quite likely – you could find yourself in trouble, potentially facing an eviction. Being evicted with a pet is a nightmare situation that no one wants to face, as you may not have enough time to find a new property that’s suitable for you. It can also then be very problematic when your next rental asks for references. Lying to your landlord is just a bad idea so please keep searching and find the right fit for you.
Can a Landlord refuse a pet?
Even if a landlord has stated no pets at the beginning of a contract, a tenant can request a pet and in some cases a landlord may not have any reason to refuse it.
Clause C3.5 prohibits a landlord from exercising a blanket ban on pets. A responsible pet owner will be aware of their responsibilities in making best efforts to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households or undue damage to the Property. A landlord should take steps to accommodate written requests from responsible tenants with pets. They should only turn down a request in writing within a 28 day period if there is good reason to do so, such as large pets in smaller properties or flats, or otherwise properties where having a pet could be impractical. Landlord consent is therefore the default position unless otherwise specified in writing by a landlord.Model Tenancy Agreement, Gov.UK
But it’s always better to set up a trusting relationship in advance rather than request a pet later and force a landlord into agreeing, especially if you want them to renew the tenancy. A landlord won’t like feeling forced or bullied into something they didn’t want, and the next time you rent you’ll already have your animal so you’ll be back to square one. An open and honest dialogue is definitely the best way for both parties.
Finally, I have one last point that I’d like to make because it’s one that has worked for me in the past and I think is often overlooked when it comes to renting with pets.
Consider a less-traditional pet that makes both parties happier
When talking about renting with pets most landlords are thinking about cats and dogs. Considering an alternative pet that isn’t free-roaming and thus can’t damage the house may be a situation that pleases both tenant and landlord. As the tenant you could consider a rabbit or a guinea pig, an aquarium full of tropical fish, or even an exotic pet like a reptile – I’ve always had reptiles and think reptiles are great family pets! If you’re asking your landlord to be flexible, perhaps you too can be flexible and see if there’s any middle point that you could both meet at so everyone is happy.
In all situations where I rented with my dog, I obtained permission from the landlord by paying a three month deposit and simply asking and I feel I’ve always had a great relationship with my landlords, with mutual respect on both sides. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, I hope this has given you some food for thought and you can move forward to find a long-term partnership that works for everyone!