When it comes to renting your property to tenants with pets, there’s a lot of considerations and risks to bear in mind and whilst most landlords flat out refuse pets, there’s no reason why you can’t successfully let your property to someone with pets.
It’s important to note, a clause outright prohibiting pets in the tenancy agreement may be scrutinised under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which protects consumers (in a landlord’s case, their tenants) from unfair clauses and terms. Banning pets without a valid reason may be unenforceable as per the tenancy agreement and may not provide grounds for eviction in itself and you are completely unable to disallow assistance animals. Service animals are not considered pets in a legal regard.
When it comes to meeting a tenant who wants to occupy your property and they have a pet, you should insist on meeting them at their current home and meeting the animal in question; this will give you an indication of the animal’s temperament, the tenant’s lifestyle and how likely it is it will be a disaster waiting to happen.
Should you find that the potential tenants tick all the right boxes and their pet is well behaved, well looked after and not going to scratch the plaster off the walls, you need to consider how you will protect yourself in the unlikely event something bad does happen.
You can lower the risk of poor pet owners by;
- Collecting references from a previous landlord who will vouch for the pet and the tenants; if they provide a reference from their current landlord, be sceptical as they may not be quite as honest if they just want to get rid of the tenant. Looks can be deceiving.
- Adding a premium to the rent or add a “pet fee”, this will cover the cost of a professional clean at the end of the tenancy for the next guest who may have allergies.
- Taking a refundable pet deposit to cover any costs resulting from damage caused by any of the pets (including fish, if a fish tank breaks, it can cause a lot of damage).
Things to bear in mind for future reference:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has declared that he believes tenants should have a default right to keep pets across the private rented sector which may spell trouble for landlords of tenants who aren’t the best pet owners whilst the “Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) wants to see “positive pet policies” implemented across all housing sectors, discouraging private landlords, social housing providers, care homes and umbrella organisations from banning tenants from keeping pets”, according to Vet Times.
We don’t think either of these options is the best way forward but a blanket ban on pets does make it almost impossible for good pet owners to move freely within the private (and social) housing sectors. More can be done to ensure good tenants with good pets occupy a landlord’s property and there are several lettings agents who will be more than happy to make sure potential tenants who own pets will be suitable for your property.