How to let to pets (and their owners)

Cat

As the make-up of the buy-to-let market shifts with more families and older people renting properties rather than buying, lets that allow pets are becoming increasingly popular with tenants.

Landlords have traditionally been reluctant to allow pets in their rental property, and with some justification. But with so many people now in long-term rental accommodation, critics say banning pets or charging extra for them, no longer reflects modern day living circumstances. Many argue that by allowing pets, landlords would attract more responsible, settled tenants.

A survey earlier this year by Landbay found one in seven (14%) tenants put ‘pets being allowed in the property’ as the most important requirement, with women twice as likely as men to prioritise pet-friendly properties.

If you want to open up your buy-to-let property to allow pets – and their owners, here are some guidelines for you and your tenants (the furry ones as well as the human sort) to get you started.

When asking a previous landlord for a reference, consider the follow questions – they can be tweaked for a vet:

Be open to the idea – but stay in control
Landlords certainly don’t have to allow all pets; think about placing an ad with ‘pets considered’ which ensures you stay in control and allows you to make a decision once you’ve met your potential tenant – and their furry friend.

Pet references
You get them for your human tenants, so why not their pet? If the pet has not lived in a rented house before, then the Dogs Trust suggests asking for a reference from their vet is possible – and sometimes it might not be. When asking a previous landlord for a reference, consider the follow questions – they can be tweaked for a vet:

  • How long did the tenant and pet live in the property?
  • What type of pet was it?
  • Were both animal and human tenants well behaved?
  • Did the animal cause any damage, or were there reports of it being a nuisance or of any bad behaviour from neighbours?
  • Do you consider the tenant to be a responsible pet owner?

Do your research
In addition to any references, find out as much as you can from the tenant about their pet, including what type of animal it is, and breed if applicable. If possible ask to meet the animal before the tenant signs a contract so you can get to know the animal a little – meeting the tenant with their pet will also give you a little insight into their approach to pet ownership.

It is also a good idea to ask for the details of their vet and the contact numbers for someone who can look after the pet in an emergency.

Include a pet clause in the tenancy agreement
It is very important to include a clause specific to pets in the tenancy agreement. The Dogs Trust gives this as an example of wording, but if you’re using a letting agent, they may have their own, ready-to-go clause:

“It is further agreed between the Landlord and Tenant that the Landlord grants permission for the Tenant to keep a pet {insert animal type and breed} named {insert animal name} (“The Pet”) in The Property for the duration of the Tenancy. The Tenant agrees not to keep or permit to be kept on the Property any further pets or animals of any description without the previous consent in writing of the Landlord.”

What about insurance?
If you are considering letting your property to tenants with pets, you may need to update your insurance policy. Contact your insurance company to see whether they have pet let specific insurance to cover you for accidental damage done by your tenant’s pet, or whether your landlord insurance covers you for this.

Check your lease
Bear in mind that if your buy-to-let is a leasehold you will need to abide by the rules of the lease, which may not allow pets. If you are in breach of your lease by allowing tenants with pets, you could also compromise your mortgage terms and insurance policy.

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30th December 2019