Lifestyle

Searches for pet-friendly rentals have risen in lockdown



Know your rights

Legally, landlords are unable to include a blanket ‘no pets’ clause in contracts, due to the Unfair Terms in Customer Contracts Regulations 1999. Therefore all pets must be pre-approved by the landlord, and acceptance is at the landlords discretion, although they should not unreasonably withhold consent (such as in the case of a small goldfish, for example). Assistance dogs are a legal right under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.

The reluctance of landlords to accept pets is predominantly due to the damage that larger animals, such as dogs, can inflict on a property, a fear that is often compounded by the fact that most insurance companies don’t cover pet damage, which includes tearing, scratching, chewing and fouling by animals. It may be possible to add an accidental damage premium, but check the small print to ensure that animal-related accidents are covered.

For those keeping chickens and rabbits, there is a legal loophole (Section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950) allowing tenants the right to keep these animals in any assured shorthold tenancy agreement. According to this act, anyone who occupies the land has the right to keep chickens and rabbits as pets, as well as build or place buildings on the land to keep them in. This strictly applies to keeping the animals privately though, so selling the chicken’s eggs would negate your rights.

Create a CV for your pet

The Dogs Trust suggests creating a CV for your pet in preparation of your move, to prove to potential landlords that your pet is an asset rather than a nuisance. This document should include the basic details about your pet, including the name, age, sex, breed, general behaviour and an image, as well as a reference from your previous landlord and your vet. You should also include information on how long the animal is left for during the day or who cares for it while you are at work, as well as up-to-date information about vaccines and pet health. The Dogs Trust have created a handy sample CV, which you can download here and fill in.

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Be flexible

Due to there being fewer pet-friendly properties available, it’s important to start your search early – even up to three or four weeks before you normally would do. It’s also key to be flexible with the kind of property you are looking for, as the market for pet-friendly properties is extremely competitive, and you’re unlikely to find somewhere that adheres to all your aesthetic desires, while properly catering for your pet.

Prepare to pay more

In order to appease a damage-fearing landlord, it’s worth offering to pay (or accepting) a higher deposit to cover any extra problems that may be incurred by keeping a pet in the property. This would typically be another two weeks rent on top of the standard deposit amount, so be prepared with extra funds when looking for a property. 

It is possible that some landlords may also want an upfront, non-refundable ‘pet payment’ to cover the cost of a professional deep-clean when you move out. In this case, make sure to check the quoted amount against other cleaning companies and ask your landlord for their specific quote and company to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.

Remember, all deposits must legally be kept in a deposit protection scheme.

Look for pet-friendly features in the property

Depending on your pet, there will be various questions you must ask yourself when viewing properties. It’s important to make a note of these, and also to become familiar with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, particularly the requirement of a suitable environment for any pet.

  1. Is it close to a main road?
  2. Is there a park nearby, or space to walk a dog?
  3. Is the property large enough for your pet?
  4. Will the noise of your pet disturb any nearby neighbours?
  5. Is there a cat-flap?
  6. Is there a logical place to keep the litter box?
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Introduce your pet to the landlord

It is incredibly important to be upfront about owning a pet when you’re looking for a property, and if a potential landlord has concerns, it might be a good idea to offer to introduce the pet to the landlord. This way they can see how the animal interacts with strangers, and also get an idea about their general behaviour.

Add changes to your Tenancy Agreement

As with anything surrounding rental properties and changes to Assured Shorthand Tenancy Agreements, it is vital you have everything in writing. Once your pet has been agreed too, your landlord should add a clause in the contract agreeing to the ownership of your pet and their occupation in the property, and confirming that this will not affect your rights. The landlord may also want to include a clause confirming that the tenants will pay for a professional deep-clean on their departure to remove any lingering pet odours and so on, although this won’t be necessary if you’ve already agreed to a ‘pet payment’ as described above.





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