Whether you are mad about dogs, crazy about cats or prefer scaly or feathery friends, it's fair to say that we are a nation of animal lovers. In fact, our need to be close to animals has seen a marked increase recently, fuelled by the ongoing pandemic.
New data released by proptech rental start-up, Home Made, reveals the pandemic has led to a rise in pet ownership, registrations of new puppies jumped by 26% between April and June 2020 in the UK leading to almost one in ten renters currently looking for pet-friendly properties (London and South West).
The survey of UK renters with pets revealed that dogs were the most popular pet (60%) followed by cats (50%), fish (15%)) and small pets like hamsters (12%).
However, just 2.8% of properties are advertised as pet friendly, making it no surprise that 39% of UK renters haven’t been able to rent a property because they are a pet owner.
When surveyed, landlords who don’t offer pet-friendly properties stated the potential damage to their investment was their core concern (67%). However, 52% of the renters polled said they would be happy to pay at least 5% more rent as a “pet premium” to mitigate any possible wear and tear caused, with 7% being prepared to pay 10% more each month.
23% of landlords also said that their letting agent actively advised them against advertising as ‘pet friendly’, advice that is out of step with the needs of modern renters. This could lead to landlords missing out on quality renters, longer tenancies, potentially higher rents and shorter void periods.
To help allay landlords' concerns, 53% of pet-owning renters would also be happy to set up a meeting so the landlord can get to know them and their pet and 38% would also be happy to provide references from ex-landlords to demonstrate their pet is well behaved. A quarter of renters said that they would be forced to rehome their pet if they couldn’t find a property. Whilst many would aim to rehome the pet with a friend or family member, 6% said that they would be forced to take their pet to a shelter. Even more worrying, 24% of renters said that they would rather go homeless than give up their pet.
Despite some landlords being reluctant to allow pets in their properties, they do recognise the benefits it offers for both themselves and renters. As such 56% of landlords are currently considering changing their policies to allow pets in their rental properties following the rise in pet ownership during lockdown.
55% are considering changing their stance because they believe that letting renters have a pet means they will get more enjoyment from their home. 49% recognise that tenants would be inclined to stay longer in the property, and 34% believe it would lead to fewer void periods.
Asaf Navot, CEO and founder of Home Made, comments: "We’re a nation of pet lovers – even more so following lockdown. But finding a rental property to suit you and your pet or pets can be tough. It is understandable many landlords are concerned about potential damage to their properties as we know that pets can be hard on a home. But there are real upsides to renting to pet owners – they're often more conscientious tenants and they stay longer.
"If you’re a renter with a pet, try getting pet references from previous properties or organise a play date with the landlord so they can get to know your friend.
"If you’re a landlord concerned about your property, chat to prospective tenants about the additional wear and tear and factor this into tenancy negotiations. You can also spend some time pet-proofing the property by removing items like rugs that could be easily damaged.
"No one should have to rehome a pet because of a lack of housing options - and searching for pet-friendly properties needs to be made easier. As a team of animal lovers, we’ve created a ‘pet-friendly property’ search tool on our site so prospective renters can find the perfect place to live."
To help renters find more pet-friendly properties, Home Made has introduced a new search tool on its platform to find homes where furry family members can live. It’s also providing advice and guidance to landlords on how they make their properties more attractive to a higher number of renters by making their properties pet friendly during tough times. Recent research by Home Made showed landlords face a rental recession of £5.7bn by 2024.
Top tips to find a pet-friendly property:
We love animals and to help out our fellow animal enthusiasts with their property needs, we’ve put together some tips to help renters gain an edge on the competition when you embark on your mission to find the perfect place for you and your pet.
1. Start looking early
With far fewer options available on the market for renters with pets and the additional logistical complication of viewings under covid-secure guidelines, you will need to start your search much earlier with the average mover. It will inevitably take you longer to find suitable pet-friendly accommodation and because of its scarcity, there will be more enquiries as animal lovers compete for homes. By starting early, you give yourself plenty of time to search for the perfect place before you need to vacate your current property.
2. Be flexible on location
In order to give yourself the best possible chance of finding a suitable property for you and your furry companion, it’s worth being flexible on location. As not every landlord is open to considering pets in their properties, if you restrict your search to a single neighbourhood you are less likely to find many options - and fewer still that would meet your specific needs.
3. You’ve got bargaining power but be prepared to pay a premium
Unfortunately, you will almost certainly pay a premium for a pet-friendly property. This is because demand outstrips supply and, unfortunately, pets do cause some wear and tear. This means that landlords have greater costs at the end of the tenancy when making their property ready for the next set of renters.
Despite many landlords being wary, pet owners are often model tenants. As it is so much more difficult to find pet-friendly property, renters with pets usually stay for longer and take exceptionally good care of the place. You should highlight this when speaking with lettings services and landlords and use the length of your proposed tenancy to make your offer more enticing and reduce your pet premium. But you will probably need to pay higher rent and should therefore budget accordingly.
4. Introduce your pet to the landlord
If you have fallen in love with a property but the landlord still has reservations, ask the lettings provider or the landlord to arrange a meet and greet. The surest way to settle nerves is to let the landlord see first-hand how lovable and well behaved your pet is! If they meet all prospective renters, human and non-human alike, this can be very reassuring and give them the confidence to proceed with a tenancy.
5. Get a reference for your pet and up-to-date vet records
Ask your current landlord for a written character reference for your pet. It will help your case significantly if the prospective landlord can see positive testimony from someone similar to them. You should also demonstrate responsible pet ownership by collating all of the records you have from your vet to confirm that your pet has up-to-date vaccinations and preventative flea and worm treatments.
6. Make sure the tenancy agreement includes written permission for your pet
Once you have had an offer accepted on a property you should request that a clause be added to your contract that overwrites any ‘No Pets’ provisions and confirms that the landlord consents to your pet living at the property. While it’s highly unlikely you will run into any issues down the line if the landlord grants permission for you to keep a pet, you should ensure that you have this in writing for the security of both you and your pets.
The perks of owning a pet-friendly letting
With a rental recession looming, one relatively straightforward change landlords can make to attract high-quality renters and minimise loss of income is adopting a flexible pets policy. While overall demand for rental property is down, interest is growing for properties that welcome pets thanks to a rise in demand for furry friends over the pandemic.
Pet owners have unfairly acquired a bad reputation in the lettings industry. In fact, the 23% we spoke to say their letting agent actively advised them against advertising their property as pet friendly. This advice is out of step with the needs of modern renters and if followed could lead to landlords missing out on quality renters, longer tenancies, potentially higher rents and shorter void periods.
Remember that ‘pets considered’ doesn’t mean ‘every pet allowed’
Advertising your property as ‘pet-friendly’ does not mean automatically accepting a pack of Great Dane puppies into your studio apartment. Landlords always retain the discretion to consider pets on a case-by-case basis and not offer guaranteed acceptance to all pets as a blanket rule. You should take some time to consider what you are and aren’t comfortable with and proceed accordingly. It’s perfectly acceptable to be content with cats but not with dogs or fine with senior animals but not kittens or puppies. Speak with the agents that are marketing the property and let them know clearly what is and isn’t agreeable so that they can filter out unsuitable applicants.
If you agree to let the property to a renter with a pet, make sure that the contract includes a pet clause. This should specify that you only grant permission for that particular animal to live at the property and that other pets are prohibited without your written consent. The clause should be comprehensive and include all relevant details regarding the animal in question - i.e. its breed, age, etc. If your prospective renters are planning to get a pet in the future, make it clear upfront what is and isn’t acceptable. Remind them also that they will need your written permission before moving any animal into the property.
Get a reference for the pet
You should feel free to ask for a character reference for the pet from the renter’s current landlord or, if that isn’t possible, a vet. Most landlords are normally happy to oblige for a good renter and you can ask if they would be willing to speak to you over the phone for additional peace of mind. You can also ask to see up-to-date medical records to demonstrate responsible pet ownership and confirm that the animal has all required vaccinations, has been spayed or neutered, and is in good health.
Meet the animal
The surest way to put your mind at ease is to meet your prospective renters (human and non-human alike) in person. Arrange a meet and greet at the property with your applicants and their pet so that you can assess the animal’s temperament and behaviour for yourself.
Pet-proof your property
Even though the Tenant Fee Act limits the number of protective measures available to landlords who welcome pets, the renter is still responsible for returning the property in the same condition it was received. The renter is liable for all costs incurred for making good any damage caused by their pet and cleaning the property to the appropriate standard.
Nevertheless, there are some sensible additional measures landlords can take to protect themselves further. Remove any rugs, particularly expensive furniture, and decorative objects before the start of the tenancy. You can also purchase relatively inexpensive plastic coverings and claw guards to fit along the bottom of furniture, door frames, and skirting boards. Finally, be sure to check if your insurance policy covers accidental pet damage. If it doesn’t then consider changing your policy.