But is always prohibiting pets a good idea? Would it not be more cost-effective sometimes let to tenants with pets?
Most tenants that find accommodation which allows pets are grateful that they will make every effort to be an excellent tenant. The sort of tenant who always pays their rent on time and cares for the property as if it were theirs. In fact the sort of tenant you want.
Of course, some properties will not be suitable for pets, and many landlords will still feel that the potential problems that pets can cause are not worth the risk.
However, those landlords who do allow pets will normally find that it is considerably easier to fill their properties and that once in, tenants stay for a longer time (avoiding voids).
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP (4 January 2020) called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes as he announced an overhaul of the model tenancy contracts. More Info
If you are a landlord that would accept a tenant with pets you will firstly need to consider the following.
If your property is leasehold, you will need to check your lease to make sure that pets are allowed. If they are, then you should be entitled to let to tenants with pets.
Freehold properties are far less likely to be a problem. Some may have restrictive covenants prohibiting animals.
This is not an exclusive list but most common types of pet you are likely to be asked about are as follows:
Dogs are the most popular pet in the UK and are also the most common type of pet objected to by landlords. A dog can do a lot of damage to a property, and excessive barking is very annoying to neighbours. However, where there is a responsible owner and the dog is cared for properly this is not likely to happen.
Before taking in a tenant with a dog, you need to find out whether this is likely to happen. The Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than four hours at a time. Please see more information from dogs trust here
Note that if neighbours complain about excessive barking, you should insist that your tenant deal with this. They will probably be unaware of it as the barking will be done while they are out, generally because the dog is bored or frustrated or generally unhappy about being left alone.
Provided their owners give them sufficient exercise, there is no reason why dogs should not be kept in flats or houses without gardens. However, each case must be assessed individually. For example, large dogs in small flats may not be appropriate and older dogs with mobility problems should not be kept in upper story flats with no lifts.
All dogs should be toilet trained as puppies so there should be no problem with fouling inside the property. Dogs will normally toilet in the garden or during walks, and it is the responsibility of the dog owner to clear up after them.
Please note that assistance dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, and dogs for disabled people, must be permitted by law in your property.
The disability legislation prohibits anyone renting or selling a property from discriminating against a disabled person, and this includes discriminating against a person with an assistance dog.
Cats are also extremely popular pets. However they are far less trouble than dogs, and it is often acceptable for them to be left behind when their owners go on holiday, provided there is a neighbour willing to feed them.
They are independent animals and generally spend a lot of time roaming around outside. However this does not mean that they cannot be kept in flats. It depends on the cat. Some cats are also better kept inside, for example, if they are old or ill.
Cats should be given a litter tray, otherwise, they are likely to infuriate neighbours by digging up their gardens (and often their most prized plants). If a scratching post and toys are provided they are less likely to scratch furniture and carpets. If you know that your tenants will be keeping a cat, you might want to provide one. Please see more information from cats org here
Budgerigars are the most popular pet birds in Britain, however, there are many other birds which can be kept, ranging from small finches to large parrots.
Birds are intelligent animals and need stimulation, for example with mirrors and toys. They are also sociable and should not be kept alone unless their owner is with them for most of the day to keep them company.
They should also be allowed time to fly and stretch their wings once a day, although under supervision.
Fish rarely cause problems and therefore are often accepted by landlords who would not agree to other types of pet.
Some aquariums can be very large so, if so, you will need to ensure that your tenant has a suitable stand to put it on and that it is cited appropriately.
Perhaps just indicate the approximate number and breed of fish and the size of the aquarium. Alternatively, you could consider having a side letter confirming your permission. However, you should still make sure you take the name and address of someone who will look after the fish in case of emergency.
Small furry animals
This includes hamsters, gerbils, and pet rats. They will be particularly popular with tenants with children.
They will need a cage or other suitable housing system, which must be large enough for the size and number of pets kept. They will need toys, chews, digging and nesting material, and (unless their enclosure is very large) supervised exercise outside their cage, as a wheel or ball alone is not sufficient.
These can be kept either indoors or outdoors provided they have suitable hutches. They are sociable animals and should be kept in pairs or more. However, as they are ferocious breeders (and sometimes fighters) it is probably best to have them neutered.
Outdoor rabbits should be provided with a suitable run for exercise, and indoor rabbits should also be allowed sufficient exercise, as well as toys, chews etc.
Indoor rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray. However be warned that they are great chewers, so tenants should be told to keep them away from the TV and other wires and cables if allowed to run around inside.
These should generally be kept outside in a cage and run. They are not normally very interested in toys but will enjoy having lots of space to run around in and boxes and tubes to explore and hide in.
Exercise outside the cage should be under supervision. They are best kept in pairs or small groups of their own kind. They should not be kept with rabbits as rabbits have powerful hind legs which can cause them injury.
These include things like tortoises, lizards, spiders and snakes.
Like all animals, these need adequate space to live and grow in, as well as a suitable natural environment. Some, such as snakes and iguanas grow very big.
Checking prospective tenants with pets
1. Speak to them.
You should always discuss their pets in detail with prospective new tenants. Use the checklist you will find at the end of this article as a guide and make notes.
2. Take a reference.
Ideally, you need to take a reference from a former landlord, where the tenant lived with his pets. Key points you should ask about are:
- How long the tenant lived in the property with his pets
- What pets they owned at that time
- Does the referee consider the tenant to be a responsible pet owner
- Were the pets well behaved
- Did they cause any damage to the property
- Did they cause a nuisance to neighbours or visitors
If may be however that a previous landlord’s reference is not possible, for example, if they have never rented before or if the pet is new. Here you can obtain a reference from their veterinary surgeon. Keys points to ask here are:
- Are the tenants’ pets generally well behaved?
- Does the veterinary surgeon consider the tenant to be a responsible pet owner?
- Does the tenant provide routine preventative health care, such as vaccinations and flea treatments, for their pets, where appropriate?
3. Meet the tenant with his pet.
This is a good opportunity for you to see for yourself what temperament the animal has and how well behaved it is. Ideally, you should see them in their current home.
If you don’t know much about animals you can always have someone with you who does, who you can ask for a second opinion.
4. Confirm that someone will be willing to look after the pet(s) in case of an emergency.
You will need a name and address and contact details for the pets section in the tenancy agreement.
However before signing the tenant up, I would suggest you get in touch with this person yourself and just satisfy yourself that they are willing to do this (after all if the tenant has a serious accident and is hospitalised, someone will have to look after it – and I am sure you would rather it was not you!).
Ideally, you should get written confirmation.
5. Consider the suitability of the pet for your particular property.
For example, a small dog in a small house may be fine, but not a large one. Cats used to roaming the neighbourhood will not appreciate being shut up in a flat all day (and could cause damage).
Think also about good relations with your neighbours. If the owner of the house next door is a fanatical gardener, he may not be pleased if a lady with five cats moves in next door!
The fact that you have decided to allow tenants with pets does not mean that you should accept every pet.
6. Examples what landlords could add to AST
- A simple clause in the AST
- Pet addendum to the AST
- A pet policy
During the tenancy