Landlords: tips for letting rental properties to pet owners

 

As the UK is a pet-friendly nation, here’s some of the benefits for letting rental properties to pet owners and tips for how landlords can ensure the tenancy runs as smooth as possible.

In early 2021, the government updated the Model Tenancy Agreement to allow tenants to keep pets in rental properties by default. However, it’s not mandatory for landlords or agents to use this contract when letting rental properties. Despite this, it could still make it easier for responsible tenants with well-behaved dogs to secure rented accommodation.

A recent survey by Intus Lettings revealed 55% of landlords support this change in the standard tenancy agreement, and 24% strongly support it. On the other hand, only 18% oppose it. This shows that many landlords are seeing the benefits that come with letting rental properties to pet owners.

Hope McKendrick, head of lettings at Intus, comments: “Of course, there are considerations for landlords to make in terms of protecting their property and many options have been discussed in parliament, including higher deposits, referencing for pets and specific insurance.”

A nation of pet owners

Nearly half of households in the UK are pet owners, according to Pet Food Manufacturers Association. Despite this, it can be challenging for some tenants to find a rental property with their pet. Because of this, the Dogs Trust launched its Lets with Pet scheme back in 2009.

This was set up to encourage more landlords to let their properties to pet owners and help make the house-hunting process easier for tenants with pets. In a guide to renting with pets, London estate agents Chestertons shares the top reasons why landlords should consider tenants with pets and advice for how to handle this type of tenancy.

Guy Gittins, CEO of Chestertons, says: “I understand what an important part pets can play in people’s lives and that landlords are often unaware of the benefits of allowing pets in their properties, that is why Chestertons has chosen to support Dogs Trust’s Lets with Pets scheme.

“We encourage our landlords to consider letting their properties to tenants with pets and support them in their decision to do so.”

Benefits of letting to tenants with pets

1. Growing demand

Tenants with pets generally find a shortage of pet-friendly rental properties, particularly in certain locations. By allowing pets into your property, landlords can open their property to a wider market. This could in turn increase demand for the property.

2. Responsible tenants

Many landlords have found that pet owners take better care of their property than the average tenant, so this could even lead you to having more responsible tenants in your property.

3. Avoid separating owners and their pets

If a tenant is unable to find a suitable rental property allowing pets, they may be forced to give their pet up or be separated from it. This can naturally have a negative emotional impact on the owner and the pet. By more landlords allowing pets in their properties, landlords could help reduce these situations.

4. Tenants stay for longer

As finding suitable rental accommodation that allows pets is difficult, pet-owning tenants will often stay in a property for longer than the average tenant. Additionally, most pet owners will try to avoid distressing their animal by moving them too frequently.

5. Reduce vacant periods

As pet-owning tenants often stay in properties for longer periods of time, landlords can take advantage of shorter void periods. This can in turn help you achieve a better return on investment.

Tips for landlords

If you are considering allowing pets in your rental property, there are certain steps that can help the tenancy run as smooth as possible.

  • Check leasehold terms. If you have a leasehold agreement, there could be stipulations in the lease prohibiting or restricting pets in the building. If this is the case, you could approach the freeholder or managing agents to see if they would be willing to change the lease terms or give permission in writing to allow pets by “special variation”.
  • Ask questions about the pet. Consider every tenant and pet on a case-by-case basis. If a prospective tenant has a pet, ask specific questions about the animal that can help you make the decision.
  • Check insurance policy. Check if your landlord, building and contents insurance covers accidental pet damage. Or check whether they offer additional cover for tenants with pets. There are specialist landlord insurance policies that cover accidental damage caused by a pet.
  • Ask for a pet reference. If the tenant has rented previously with a pet, ask the tenant to provide a pet reference from a previous landlord.
  • Include a pet clause in the tenancy agreement. Once you’ve decided to let your property to a pet owner, you should add a pet clause in your tenancy agreement. The government’s sample tenancy agreement now includes one.
  • Require a professional clean. In your tenancy agreement, state that tenants should have the property professionally cleaned when they move out. This should include cleaning all carpets and any soft furnishings, in addition to treating the property for mites and fleas.

Paws for thought

Across the UK, there are numerous build-to-rent developments that have been leading the push for pet-friendly rentals. This sector will likely boom throughout the coming years as more UK households are bringing pets into their homes.

Previous studies have even shown that many tenants are willing to pay more for pet-friendly properties. For landlords interested in relaxing their no pets policies, the potential of additional income could be another appealing boost.

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Landlords: tips for letting rental properties to pet owners

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