Top Reasons Landlords Should Consider Tenants With PetsWritten By PropertyLoop March 16, 2021
For some time now tenants that wish to rent out a property with their pets have faced incredible difficulty doing so. Not only are the options of possible renting opportunities disproportionately slim when compared to tenants without fury companions, but in extreme cases tenants have been forced to leave their beloved animals behind.
With numerous reports of the amount of people with furry friends being on the rise over recent months, the UK’s rental market is facing an opportune time to cash in on something that has traditionally and rather wrongly been seen as a gamble.
As pet friendly rentals seemingly become harder to find, with less than 10% of property owners saying they would be willing to accommodate an animal in their rental, we discuss the often overlooked reasons why you should allow pets in your rental.
Attract More Tenants
Of course, finding tenants to occupy a vacant rental property is the primary concern and focus of all landlords and property owners. It’s common to ask what you can do to widen your properties appeal to attract more tenants whilst advertising as concerns over finding an ideal tenant quickly start to mount.
But instead of hurrying into a tenancy agreement with a tenant you rushed through the door, why not increase the amount of potential tenants that could let your property. To state the obvious, the broader your horizons when searching for good tenants, the more interest, engagement and viewings your empty rental property will receive.
Now, it’s no secret that landlords are typically wary of renting their property to tenant that own pets, but why do most adopt this position. Typically landlords justify their position against pets through citing the damage they could cause to the property throughout the tenancy. Whilst a nibbled door frame or scratched chair leg may not seem like something to lose sleep over, long after tenants and their pets have left the property, the landlord is left to deal with repair costs and the associated admin, all of which must be carried out before once again advertising the property for rent. Whilst slightly less common, tenants can have their pets rejected on the basis of unruly behaviour and complaints from neighbouring properties.
With this being said as of 2020, just over half of all adults in the UK are pet owners. This number has reportedly increased significantly over lockdown as people look for ways to best the mundane reality of living in isolation. Despite these compelling figures, only 7% of landlords are willing to allow pets into their rental property.
For anyone potentially needing to cast a larger net in their search for tenants, such a greatly neglected community is rare, providing your rental property is in a prime location contention for your newly pet friendly rental could be fierce.
Retain Tenants for Longer
We have already outlined the difficulties that tenants with pets face when trying to find a new home. As a landlord offering a pet friendly rental environment, you are already in the minority that is ahead of the curve. But, not only have you opened your doors to an entirely new array of prospective tenants, but those that do rent will have a huge incentive to do so for longer.
If landlords common mantra of no pets continues to be upheld then tenants will be less inclined to commit to months of searching and countless rejections. Of course as the property owner this is fantastic as extended void periods will become less of a threat, alongside the sustained financial security provided with longer tenancy periods. Not forgetting the time and money landlords would save on not having to advertise, regularly update and reference new tenants.
Landlords Can Make More Money
Whilst this is typically done as a measure to reduce the cost of any potential repairs at the end of the tenancy period, alongside taking a higher deposit, landlords that provide a pet friendly rental tend to charge a higher amount for rent. Of course, if a landlord wants to increase the monthly cost of their rental, if the change is too significant potential tenants could be priced out of your property. However, a quick search on any pet friendly rentals in the area should provide an idea of what to charge in order to remain competitive. If the animal has been with the owner a long time and is well trained and no property damage is to be expected then this of course is a welcome, yet modest addition to any landlord’s margins.
Improve Your Reputation as a Landlord
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 landlords are currently prevented from enforcing a blanket ban on tenants moving into their property with pets. In spite of this the reality for those searching for accommodation with their pets is far different, with landlords using the potential for future damage to their property as a means to reject these aspiring tenants. Naturally wanting to protect the condition of your investment is a good idea, saving you from paying significant repair sums further down the line. With this in mind, whilst the property owners concerns are fully justified, the consumer rights act details that; “a no pet clause should allow for the tenant to ask for permission to keep a pet. The landlord is not allowed to unreasonably refuse the request.”
However, if a landlord was to receptive of pets, given the difficulty facing this community, any landlords that let out pet friendly properties are sure to receive more interest from similar clientele. The power of word of mouth is nothing to be underestimated even in an online age, with tenants increasingly turning to internet forums and advice boards to find their next rental opportunity.
New Rules for Tenants With Pets
Announce of the 28th January 2021, the new standard tenancy agreement is a triumph for pet owning renters struggling to find new accommodation. With the historical difficulty pet owners faced when searching for a new rental property proving to be insurmountable for some, the government has intervened, creating a more neutral renting landscape regarding this issue.
In effect, the new changes have prevented landlords and property owners from adopting the widespread “no pets” clause in their tenancy agreement, essentially making it possible to pursue eviction with tenants that failed to comply with this measure. However, moving forward instead of adopting blanket ban on animals in their property, landlords will have the opportunity to object to a pet request from a potential tenant with a 28 day window, but a valid reason must be provided.
These rejections will only be considered if the underlining reason for doing so is legitimate, with arguments being made for smaller properties, or where a pet would be impractical, ie: if the tenant were wishing to rent out a flat on the third floor.
The caveat here is that before moving in renters must first demonstrate that they are a responsible pet owner. To meet these criteria the pet owner must ensure their animal companion is vaccinated and spayed or neutered, free of parasites and will respond to basic commands. Whilst this is certainly a step in the right direction, giving pet owners potentially more freedom in their choice of future rental property than ever before, alongside landlords receiving some extra reassurance regarding the state of their furnishings; it is still fairly vague and is by no means standardised, leaving plenty of room for what constitutes responsiveness to basic commands.
Whilst this bill has passed its first reading, it is not as of yet committed into law meaning that landlords and property owners are, for the time being, still free to take their historical stance on the divisive issue. However, with over 90% of landlords failing to afford any consideration toward tenants accompanied by furry friends, the same crowd that endeavours to compete over the same pool of tenants is ignoring an already huge renting demographic that has only grown as people turn to new pets during the series of lockdowns in the UK.
Reducing Risk When Renting With Pets
We have already discussed how for many landlords renting to pet owners is synonymous with extortionate bills for repairs at the close of the tenancy period. However, it goes without saying that this is not always the case and simple actions can go far in taking measures to safeguard your property.
Get A Reference
Just as you would expect with a tenant, it is possible to gain a reference for pets from a previous or current landlord. This information will be invaluable, as it will provide an evaluation of the pet’s behaviour from someone who will have shared your perspective as a property owner. This will let you know if any repairs needed to be carried out because of the pet’s behaviour throughout the tenancy, if there were any complaints by neighbours or any other issues caused by the animal.
Meet the Pet
It is also advised that you first meet the animals before making a judgement on the tenancy. Ideally you will be able to go and visit the tenant and their pet in their current accommodation so you can see first-hand how the pet behaves in a home environment. This is also an opportune time to assess their current property for signs of pet related wear and tear, with damaged chairs, scratched doors and furnishings being the most common signs.
Increase the Rent
If you have visited the pet, obtained a reference from a previous landlord and are still not fully satisfied that your property will be left in immaculate condition, as mentioned, it is not uncommon for landlords to charge increased rent. This additional fee can’t be so excessive that it deters potential tenants from proceeding to rent your property, but a modest increase can soon amount to enough for any repair work needed at the end of the tenancy.
Ensure There Is A property Inventory
Given that the main concern for landlords and property owners when it comes to pets in their property is potential damage, conducting a thorough inventory prior to the tenant moving in is essential. After all, how can a landlord claim repair fees from their tenants deposit if there is nothing to show that the damage was indeed done during the tenancy period. Whilst landlords are under no legal obligation to provide an inventory upon the start of a tenancy, it is highly recommended to do so, as if an inventory cannot be produced in the event of a dispute the landlord’s claim is likely to be rejected. With this being said, pet or no pet, as per the tenancy agreement all tenants have the responsibility of returning the property to the landlord in the same state in which the tenancy began.
Pet Clause in the Tenancy Agreement
It is recommended that landlords ensure their tenancy agreement clearly details that any pets that are residing within the property are only able to do so with your permission. In order to not breach the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the clause must also stipulate that your permission regarding this issue will not be “unreasonably withheld”.
Taking an Increased Deposit From the Tenant
Traditionally, and much to the dismay of animal loving renters, landlords have charged higher deposits before moving in to pre-emptively cover the cost of any repairs. As of June 2019 property owners are capped on the amount they are able to take from tenants for this deposit, with the limit being placed at the sum of five weeks rent. However, this is only is the value of the rental property does not exceed the value of £50,000, in the instances where the property value is higher the landlord is able to ask the tenant for as much as six weeks rent.
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