With a staggering 45% of the UK population owning a pet, we’re clearly a nation of devoted animal lovers. However, this doesn’t always translate when looking to find a rental property. Due to the perceived downsides of pet ownership and occupation by landlords, which include property damage and lingering odours, there is a distinct lack of rental properties on the market where pets are accepted, despite the fact that pet-owners tend to be responsible tenants looking for long-term contracts.
Do you want to hear our tips to make your move with your four-pawed friend as smooth as possible? Check out the video below!
Also, if you need some additional tips, have a look at our article about the best blogs for pet owners in London!
While it’s always been relatively difficult to find a pet-friendly rental, the problem is becoming increasingly apparent as the balance between private home ownership and private rental properties in the UK changes. Due to the rise in house prices and shortage of affordable homes which have largely led to Generation Rent, it is forecasted that a quarter of homes will be rented privately by 2025, a figure which jumps to nearly half of all homes occupied by those under 40 years old. The good news, is that some special brands are now developing amazing properties with the renter in mind, and most of them accept pets!
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The Lets With Pets scheme, established by the Dogs Trust in 2009, was set up as a direct response to the huge number of pets forced to be re-homed due to housing issues incurred with renting with pets. They are campaigning to educate landlords on the benefits of accepting pets in their properties, but there is still some way to go before the negative perceptions of pets in rented properties are overcome. Fortunately, as long as you plan ahead, know your rights, and are willing to be flexible, you should be able to find the right property for both yourself and your four-legged, amphibious or scaly friend.
Planning your move
Know your rights
Legally, landlords are unable to include a blanket ‘no pets’ clause in contracts, due to the Unfair Terms in Customer Contracts Regulations 1999. Therefore all pets must be pre-approved by the landlord, and acceptance is at the landlords discretion, although they should not unreasonably withhold consent (such as in the case of a small goldfish, for example). Assistance dogs are a legal right under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.
The reluctance of landlords to accept pets is predominantly due to the damage that larger animals, such as dogs, can inflict on a property - which anyone who has seen a puppy tear apart a room in minutes can attest to! This is made worse by the fact that most insurance companies don’t cover pet damage, which includes tearing, scratching, chewing and fouling by animals. It may be possible to add an accidental damage premium, but check the small print to ensure that animal-related accidents are covered.
For those keeping chickens and rabbits, there is a fortunate legal loophole (Section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950) allowing tenants the right to keep these animals in any assured shorthold tenancy agreement. According to this act, anyone who occupies the land has the right to keep chickens and rabbits as pets, as well as build or place buildings on the land to keep them in. This strictly applies to keeping the animals privately though, so selling the chicken's eggs would negate your rights.
Create a CV for your pet
The Dogs Trust suggest creating a CV for your pet in preparation of your move, to prove to potential landlords that your pet is an asset rather than a nuisance. This document should include the basic details about your pet, including the name, age, sex, breed, general behaviour and an image, as well as a reference from your previous landlord and your vet. You should also include information on how long the animal is left for during the day or who cares for it while you are at work, as well as up-to-date information about vaccines and pet health. The Dogs Trust have created a handy sample CV, which you can download here and fill in.
Finding a property
Due to the lack of pet-friendly properties available, it’s important to start your search early - even up to three or four weeks before you normally would do. It’s also key to be flexible with the kind of property you are looking for, as the market for pet-friendly properties is extremely competitive, and you’re unlikely to find somewhere that adheres to all your aesthetic desires, while properly catering for your pet.
Prepare to pay more
In order to appease a damage-fearing landlord, it’s worth offering to pay (or accepting) a higher deposit to cover any extra problems that may be incurred by keeping a pet in the property. This would typically be another two weeks rent on top of the standard deposit amount, so be prepared with extra funds when looking for a property. It is possible that some landlords may also want an upfront, non-refundable ‘pet payment’ to cover the cost of a professional deep-clean when you move out. In this case, make sure to check the quoted amount against other cleaning companies and ask your landlord for their specific quote and company to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
Remember, all deposits must legally be kept in a deposit protection scheme.
Look for pet-friendly features in the property
Depending on your pet, there will be various questions you must ask yourself when viewing properties. It’s important to make a note of these, and also to become familiar with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, particularly the requirement of a suitable environment for any pet.
- Is it close to a main road?
- Is there a park nearby, or space to walk a dog?
- Is the property large enough for your pet?
- Will the noise of your pet disturb any nearby neighbours?
- Is there a cat-flap?
- Is there a logical place to keep the litter box?
If you need more tips about the features of a pet-friendly property, discover the best blogs for pet owners in London to find all the answers that you need.
Introduce your pet to the landlord
It is incredibly important to be upfront about owning a pet when you’re looking for a property, and if a potential landlord has concerns, it might be a good idea to offer to introduce the pet to the landlord. This way they can see how the animal interacts with strangers, and also get an idea about their general behaviour.
Add changes to your Tenancy Agreement
As with anything surround rental properties and changes to Assured Shorthand Tenancy Agreements, it is vital you have everything in writing. Once your pet has been agreed too, your landlord should add a clause in the contract agreeing to the ownership of your pet and their occupation in the property, and confirming that this will not affect your rights. The landlord may also want to include a clause confirming that the tenants will pay for a professional deep-clean on their departure to remove any lingering pet odours and so on, although this won’t be necessary if you’ve already agreed to a ‘pet payment’ as described above.
Minimise stress for your pets
Moving house and new situations can be hugely stressful for pets, so to ensure their wellbeing the best option is to leave your pet with a trusted friend for the moving day, or use a service like Borrow my Doggy, DogBuddy or Cat in a Flat. If this isn’t possible, keep them secured in a closed room while moving furniture and boxes out of your original property and inform any removal staff. Once in the new home, again keep your pet secure in a closed room with familiar items such as toys and bedding while you move in.
Keep cats indoors
More so than dogs, cats are known to bond very strongly with the territory around them, and can respond badly to moving. As well as helping them bond with the new house through familiar items and scents, it’s advised to keep your cat indoors for at least two to three weeks after moving to try and prevent them returning to your old property.
Update your pet's details
Once you’ve settled into a new property, register your pet at the nearest vet and update this on your pet CV, sending a copy to the landlord if required. You should also make sure their microchip is updated with your new address, or have them microchipped if you haven’t already done so.
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