Letting to tenants with pets
The Dogs Trust ‘lets with pets’ site claims that some 46% of us own a pet. Thats a lot of people.
So if, as a landlord, you don’t accept tenants with pets, you are cutting yourself off from a lot of prospective tenants.
Many of whom would look after the property well and be so grateful to have somewhere to live with their pet that they will pay on the nail and take care to be good tenants.
Because most landlords say ‘no’ to pets. However letting to tenants with pets may be a good idea sometimes.
Why landlords say ‘no’ to tenants with pets
Saying no to pets is often understandable. Pets can cause damage to a property – and even if you get the cost back via the deposit, it is still a bother to deal with.
Then, some people are allergic to pets. I was at a landlords meeting a while back where one of the landlords confessed that he was extremely allergic and could tell within a few minutes whether his tenants had a pet in the house. Indeed there was some jocular discussion about renting him out as a ‘pet detector’.
Clearly, and rightly, he does not permit pets in his properties.
However often letting to tenants with pets will be appropriate. For example family homes and properties where people are intending to stay a long time.
So, if you decide to permit pets – how do you deal with this in the tenancy agreement?
Dealing with tenants’ pets in tenancy agreements
If you agree to allow a pet, this needs to be recorded. You should also make sure that you record details of the agreed pet. There is quite a difference (for example) between one miniature poodle and four alsatian dogs.
So you need to say how many pets, with details about the agreed pet such as the breed, microchipping etc.
You should also ask for details of the pet’s vet and (VERY important) the name and address of someone who is willing to look after the pet if for some reason the tenant can’t. For example if he is hospitalised. If you don’t do this, YOU will be responsible for looking after it!
Terms and conditions regarding pets in rented property
I now have a form which can be used with all our tenancy agreements which includes all the information above as well as incorporating special terms and conditions regarding pets.
For example, the big problem with dogs is barking when they are left alone. Often the pet owner is unaware of this (as the dog does not bark when they are there). So the special terms and conditions provide that they must not be left alone for more than four hours at a time.
Terms and conditions are also a useful place to remind tenants of their obligations under the various acts of Parliament regarding animals.
The tenants are also notified that if it appears that the animal is not being looked after properly or has been abandoned, you will inform the appropriate welfare organisation (in most cases this will be the RSPCA).
It not just your paperwork though. You also need to do careful checking before agreeing to the pet. For example, if you can, visit the tenant and pet in their current home, that is a good way to find out if this is a well-behaved and non-destructive animal …
I would also suggest that you be extra rigorous about the quarterly inspections. Just in case. At least during the first year of the tenancy.
The Pet Agreement and Information form can be found as part of the Landlord Law tenancy agreements service