Should tenants be allowed to keep pets in rental properties? It’s a thorny subject that is back in the spotlight after an MP called for landlords to be more flexible on the issue.
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell argues that preventing tenants from being with their beloved pet companion is cruel and discriminatory.
“For most people, being separated from your dog is really no different than being separated from your brother or your sister,” he says.
Mr Rosindell has put forward a bill that would give tenants the right to live with their pet, providing that they can show they are responsible and caring.
While the bill is still some way off becoming law – it’s not clear yet whether enough MPs will back it – it does indicate a growing interest in the issue.
A study by YouGov and Mars Petcare found that two-thirds of private tenants would like to have a pet.
However, only around 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets, meaning there’s a yawning chasm between the number of renters who yearn to have a four-legged friend of their own, and properties where this is possible.
Decisions for landlords
Landlords have an ultimate say over whether pets are allowed in a property, although the Consumer Rights Act 2015 prohibits blanket pet bans.
Instead, landlords in Gloucestershire can include a clause in the contract requiring tenants to request permission to keep a pet. Landlords can refuse a request but need to provide a good reason for doing so.
If you receive such a request, here are a few key issues to consider.
1 Introducing a pet into a property can increase the risk of costly damage. Some landlords have horror stories about dogs digging up gardens, and cats clawing furniture and leaving carpets flea-ridden.
2 If the property is leasehold, some leasehold agreements do not allow pets.
3 Barking dogs can upset the neighbours and be a source of ongoing dispute.
4 Allowing a reliable tenant to keep a pet could encourage them to stay long term, meaning you don’t have to bother finding new tenants and running more reference checks.
5 Allowing pets could make your property more marketable and therefore you can raise the rent.
6 Rodent reduction – Cats kill rats and mice, so provide an element of pest protection.
Other points of consideration
7 Not all pets are equal. The impact of having a 90kg Great Dane living in a property differs greatly from a caged hamster or a cat. Talk in detail to your tenant about the pet they would like to have, and how they intend to look after it.
8 If the tenant owns the pet already, ask to set vet records to ensure it is vaccinated and microchipped.
9 If the tenant kept a pet at their previous property, ask for a reference from the landlord in question.
10 Make specific provision in the contract for the pet in question so that your tenant can’t take advantage of your generosity and acquire a menagerie of animals.
If you’d like more advice about dealing with tenants with pets, get in touch. We can provide a detailed briefing about how to say on the right side of the law and protect your property.