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Tenants and their Pets

Saturday, 10th July 2010

Categories: Lettings Property Management

Author: Peter Barry

Britain may be a nation of animal lovers but pet owners often struggle to find accommodation where the landlord is willing to accept any pets. Many landlords will not accept pets fearing they will damage furniture, fixtures and leave flea infestations when they depart.

However, landlords could benefit commercially from taking a more lenient approach to pet-owners. The majority of pet owners are law abiding citizens, who look after their pet responsibly and are prepared to pay a higher deposit for any damage or additional cleaning that the pet may cause.

Let us talk numbers: The Dogs Trust estimate 40% of the UK own pets, mostly dogs, cats and caged birds.  12-15% of the population live in rented accommodation, so a landlord who is willing to allow pets in his property will find a larger pool of tenants and normally, the tenants stay for longer.  It could even be said that the tenant could be so grateful, and appreciate how hard it can be to find pet friendly landlords, they will always pay their rent on time and look after the property as if it was their own!

Of course it is not always an option to allow pets if you have a leasehold property.  Landlords will need to check the head lease to make sure pets are allowed.

If there are no prohibitions then landlords need to consider which pets may be suitable for the property, and what types of pet they will allow. For example, a landlord may not be keen for a German Shepherd to be a resident in one bedroom flat.

It is important that prospective tenants tell the agent and the landlords about their pets the first time they view a property, and not leave it until after they make an offer, receive the contract and then read the clause which says “no pets”.  Prospective tenants must mention their pets as soon as they show interest in a property, obtain the landlords approval so that the agent can then take an extra deposit, which would be held against damage caused specifically by the pets, and insert a special clause in the tenancy agreement giving permission for the pet/s to be kept at the property.

So, what if one day when carrying out a routine property visit it became evident there was now a pet in residence that there was not approval for?  A good relationship with the tenants is key in these situations. Once the facts have been established, the landlord must decide what to do.

If they allow the pet to remain at the property (head lease permitting), they should  arrange for an additional deposit to be taken and a rider on the tenancy agreement detailing the animal.

If they decide they would rather not have Fido living in their property, then a formal letter would be sent to the tenant, stating the breach of tenancy agreement and giving them a set time to remove the animal, usually between 48 hours and a week.

Once the landlord has made his choice, we can deal with all the administration, deposit taking and notice serving required, and the landlord has peace of mind they are getting the very best, lawful advice.