We’ve learned over the past year how much of a comfort pets have been for many people during lockdown. The government is keen to make it easier for dwellers in private rented accommodation to enjoy the benefits of living with a furry friend and is taking steps to encourage more landlords to allow pets.

What’s changed

A BBC report found that only 7% of landlords offer pet-friendly accommodation. In a move to increase this, the government has introduced a new model tenancy agreement that allows renters to seek consent for pets as a default, requiring the landlord to provide written refusal within 28 days, providing good reasons for their refusal. It’s not a legal requirement to use the modal tenancy agreement, but there is a drive-in parliament to make these changes a legal requirement.

What does this mean for agents?

Letting agents want to strike the right balance between ensuring that additional wear and tear or damage caused by pets is managed without excluding potential tenants because of pet ownership. Also, on the positive side, pet owners are often mindful not to abuse a landlord’s trust, and they also tend to look for longer tenancies because they know how difficult it is to find properties that allow pets.

In our post Renting with pets: A landlord’s guide, we discuss key considerations when allowing pets in rental properties, but there are additional measures to consider to minimise the impact of pets on a property:

  • Requiring pet insurance: This can cover accidental property damage.
  • Landlord references: Confirm from previous landlords the acceptable behaviour of the animal and the tenant as a courteous pet owner.
  • Proof of vaccinations: This helps prevent flea infestations and ensures the good health of the pet.
  • Charger higher rent: You may be entitled to charge a small additional amount to cover the cost of wear and tear.

Add protection with regular property inspections.

Regular inspections of rental properties are always advisable as a means of protecting your landlord’s investment. Still, if you have pet-owner tenants, property checks will also pick up any damage caused by their pets, such as chewed woodwork, damaged furniture or smells. You can then work with the tenant to resolve the issues or decide if the arrangement needs reviewing.

Delays to repairs can stall renting out to the next tenants and increases overall costs, which regular checks can prevent. It’s also advisable to ensure a thorough end of tenancy cleaning regime to remove pet hair and smells, especially if your next tenant isn’t a pet owner or could have pet allergies.

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