Historically, landlords and animals don’t have the best relationship.
The fear of damage, infestations and related costs sometimes seem too much hassle than they’re worth.
But, people love their pets!
So, landlords who ban them run the risk of putting off many potential tenants. It can feel like a catch-22!
To try and help, here’s a landlord’s guide to renting with pets.
Pros of Being a Pet Friendly Landlord
When you think of animals and rental properties, you might only conjure up negative images.
But, there are some pros!
Here’s a closer look:
Expands Your Options
By allowing pets in your property, you open the door to a far greater number of potential tenants.
To some landlords, this makes clear business sense!
Tenants with pets know it’s not easy to find a landlord accommodating to their situation. This means they’re likely to stick around and settle in your house.
Encouraging a long term tenancy has many perks. From no rental void periods to the lack of hassle of constantly changing contracts, there are advantages to allowing tenants to lay their roots in your property!
But, this does come with its own compromises. Pets are one of these!
It’s fair to up the rent of any property that accommodates pets. We recommend adding a small amount that will help to account for wear and tear later on.
Don’t forget, you can’t claim back any money from the security deposit for fair wear and tear.
Increasing the rent on a property from £600 to £650 per month, for example, is a reasonable decision. It’s not a drastic inflation that will put tenants off. But, it can help to cover any additional work needed when the property is vacated.
A pet brings a greater risk of damage to your property, especially, if it’s furnished.
We recommend adding a fair amount onto the deposit to cover any additional costs that could be caused by the animal. Your top priority should always be to protect your investment! Peace of mind should never be underrated.
Some landlords choose to do things separately, and ask for a pet deposit. This is in addition to the standard security deposit. It’s up to you!
Helps Build a Positive Relationship
The best tenancies are happy tenancies! Establishing a good relationship between landlord and tenant is key to this.
As renting a pet friendly house is so rare, you seem like a reasonable and positive landlord for allowing it. While there are no promises, this may give your tenant more respect for you.
Plus, since most tenants will be aware that landlords like you are rare, they’re more likely to respect your home in hopes of staying there.
Attracts Responsible Tenants
Tenants with pets are generally more settled in their lives. This is due to the responsibility that comes with owning an animal.
The more stable and responsible the tenant is, the more likely they are to respect your property. This is a general rule, of course, as we can’t speak for everyone.
Reduced Void Periods
A pet friendly property is likely to let out quicker than one which isn’t.
With the abundance of tenants with pets out there and lack of rental properties who allow them, demand will be high.
This means facing the prospect of a void period is far less of a concern!
Cons of Being a Pet Friendly Landlord
Of course, with the positives come some inevitable consequences.
Some of these you might already be aware of, but, let’s dig a little deeper.
Risk of Damage
Pets are renowned for causing damage to properties.
From chewing through furniture to lack of house training, there can be a number of potential causes of damage by pets.
Of course, you can claim this back through the deposit. However, for some landlords, it’s not worth the risk.
Pets are notoriously smelly – even when they’re cared for properly. These smells can be difficult to shift.
The tenants often don’t notice it themselves, which makes it more frustrating.
This can also cause financial complications! Other than cleaning costs, pets can give the property a dirty feel which can lead to difficulty bringing in new tenants.
Animal hair is difficult to remove from upholstery and carpets.
If you’re in the unfortunate situation of letting to a tenant who isn’t too fond of cleaning, this can be an arduous or costly process for you.
A property which houses a pet requires an extremely thorough clean once it’s been vacated. This isn’t only costly, but time consuming too.
There’s the potential that future tenants may have a pet allergy!
Alternatively, if you, as the landlord, have an allergy, this can cause complications when you inspect your property.
If you let to an unsavoury tenant with an aggressive pet, you’re likely to face some serious difficulties.
This could be the welfare of your neighbours, the difficulty of communicating with your tenant, threatening behaviour or even being unable to inspect the property.
Of course, these are worst-case scenarios. But, it’s important to consider every possibility.
Some landlords feel that if they allow one pet into their property, tenants will take advantage of this.
Is there a danger of your investment becoming overrun with pets?
Problems With Neighbours
Will the neighbours be as accepting of the new houseguests as you?
Pets cause noise, wonder into nearby gardens or cause general annoyance.
If your tenants aren’t receptive to complaints, you’ll receive the brunt of the anger. Are you prepared for this?
How can you be sure that the pets you accept into your property won’t have fleas?
Infestations can cause lasting problems that can be costly to repair.
You may also like: How Much Rent Should I Charge My Tenants?
What Animals Will You Accept?
Now you know the pros and cons, have you decided to go ahead with allowing pets into your property?
If the answer is yes, you need to work out what you will accept.
Obviously, there’s a big difference between a dog and a fish tank. Also, just how many pets will you accept – only one, or multiple?
It’s important to be clear on this very early on.
Let’s examine what you might be up against…
Renting With a Dog
Renting a house with a dog is a big deal. For most landlords, these are the animals they’re most wary of.
Here are just some of the problems they can cause:
- Noise, such as barking, causing complaints from the neighbours
- Damage, such as chewing up furniture (particularly puppies!)
- Bringing in fleas
You’ll need to be very clear on the rules you lay down before the tenant and their four-legged friend move in. For example, explain clearly that the animal isn’t to be left alone in the house for prolonged periods of time.
If your property is a flat, you might want to think carefully about with tenants keeping a dog is appropriate. They need lots of time outside, so access to a garden is often necessary.
Also, more often than not, the older the dog – the better! They’re more likely to be well trained, quieter and well behaved.
Whether you want to accept pets into your home or not, assistance dogs must be allowed. This is due to anti-discriminatory laws against disabled tenants.
In these circumstances, the choice of renting with pets is out of your hands.
Birds and Rental Properties
Birds might seem harmless on the surface. However, if kept in cages inside, this could lead to mess.
Also, think of noise. One bird might be manageable, but dozens of them could cause your neighbours serious disturbances.
Renting with Cats
Cats are one of Britain’s most popular pets!
Luckily for landlords, cats are relatively trouble-free. Many of them spend most of their time outside!
However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing to think about. For example, will you allow a litter tray in your property? If not, be clear on this before tenants move in.
Also, there are problems concerning cat fur. Some breeds of cat shed more than others! If you say you allow cats in your rental property, will this be breed-dependent?
Small Popular Pets
Particularly if you rent to a family with children, small furry animals might be a request.
These animals could include:
- Guinea pigs
- Pet rats
You might consider laying down rules that they must remain in cages outside, or live in rooms without carpet. Of course, the choice is entirely up to you!
Can You Let to Pet Owners?
Before you get carried away, though, you need to work out if it’s possible. Can you allow pets into your rental property?
If your property is leasehold, you might find it tricky to rent with pets. As many leases ban pets, you’ll need to change yours.
But, this can be easier said than done.
For example, if you own a flat in a large block, other leaseholders will need to be consulted. The more property owners, the trickier this will be.
Tips for Landlords Letting to Pet Owners
Allowing pets in rentals is a big consideration.
So, if you’re going ahead with it, here are some tips to help you along the way:
Meet the Pet
It might sound strange, but meeting the pet before agreeing to let to its tenants is essential.
You’ll be able to get a feel for its temperament, noise levels, how it reacts to new people and whether it’s house trained.
Of course, you can only get so much from one meeting. But, if the pet is badly behaved, that’s all you need!
If you feel it’s necessary, ask to meet the pet more than once.
Think of this as a bit like a ‘tenancy screening’, but for an animal!
Get a Previous Landlord Reference
Asking for a pet reference may sound a bit extreme. But, when it comes to looking after your property, nothing is too far!
If the potential tenant has let with their pet before, ask for contact details for their previous landlord. Find out information such as:
- How well behaved the pet was
- Whether any damage to their property was caused
- Was the tenant responsible?
- Did the neighbours complain?
- Were there any problems relating to the pet at all throughout the tenancy?
Set Up Open Communication from the Start
All tenancies require good communication from both parties.
However, when it comes to pets, this is even more important. It’s vital to speak with the potential tenant about their pet at the very beginning.
After that, clearly explain what it is you expect and lay down the rules. Make sure these are included in the tenancy agreement.
Consider Property and Pet
Your property and the pet itself… Are they compatible?
Cats and dogs might not enjoy living in a top floor flat, for example, as outdoor access is key.
Accept pets within reason. Think about the space and neighbours – not every pet will be able to live in your property!
If you’ve decided to rent with pets, your property’s inventory will be more important than ever. You’ll want to ensure there’s no room for miscommunication. No Letting Go can help you look after your investment. Find out more about our services here.
Landlords have many health and safety obligations. One of these includes carrying out Legionella risk assessments.
But, many landlords are still in the dark about how to go about this.
What is Legionella? What harm can it cause? Should you carry it out yourself, or hire a professional?
Here’s a closer look at the importance of a Legionella risk assessment.
What is Legionella?
Firstly, it’s important to identify the cause of the issue. Many of us, including landlords, are unaware of what Legionella is, let alone what harm it can cause.
Legionella is a type of bacteria found in water systems, such as pipes, as well as central heating systems and air conditioning units.
What Harm Can Legionella Cause?
The bacterium causes Legionnaires’ disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
The bacterium presents a threat to anyone, however those who smoke or suffer from existing health conditions, such as heart disease or a weakened immune system, are particularly at risk.
Legionella can also cause Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever, which also pose health risks.
Therefore, it’s easy to see why, when it comes to Legionnaires’ disease, landlords need to take it seriously.
Where Can It Be Found?
Legionella can be found naturally in freshwater, such as rivers. However, when found here, it rarely causes humans any harm.
But, when found in man-made water systems, conditions such as maintained temperature allow the bacteria to grow rapidly.
It can then become airborne, for example in water vapour or mist.
How Can You Get Infected?
People get infected with Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling the droplets of water containing Legionella.
Recirculated or stored water is particularly at risk from developing the bacteria.
What is the Law Surrounding Legionella Testing?
In 2014, the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 was revised to include testing of Legionella in all domestic properties.
While the risk in domestic properties is less compared to public buildings, such as businesses, an assessment still needs to be carried out by all duty holders.
But, landlords can do this themselves unless they feel uncomfortable or are unsure how it’s done. As it’s one of the most important landlord’s responsibilities, it’s recommended to seek professional help when undertaking the Legionella assessment.
If a landlord does choose to carry out the Legionella test themselves, they need to provide evidence of this and show proof of their findings.
Failure to comply can result in a serious fine.
How Can You Control Legionella?
There are many ways you can control and prevent the spread of Legionella. These include:
• Replacing or removing any faulty or needless pipework
• Preventing any dirt from entering the water system, for example by fitting a tight lid
• Flushing the water system between each tenancy
• Ensuring the temperature of any water tanks are set high enough (60°C is the optimum temperature, while 20°C- 45°C are often the right conditions to develop the bacteria)
• Make sure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system
• Treat the water to control growth of any bacteria
As the landlord, the responsibility of Legionella testing lies with you, whether you use a professional or do it yourself, to identify any risks and deal with them accordingly.
What is the Responsibility of the Tenants?
Your tenants do not have to keep your property free from Legionella. However, it’s important to inform them of the risks so that they can help reduce them.
You tenants should be:
• Cleaning shower heads regularly
• Not changing the temperature of the water systems once you have set them
• Informing you if they find debris in the water
• Telling you if the water system isn’t working
• Telling you if the hot water temperature is too low
• Turning on any less frequently used water systems at least once a week
However, while tenants can play their part, the responsibility falls with the duty holder. This is where property visits come in.
The Dangers with Vacant Properties
Void periods between tenancies are a nightmare for landlords for a variety of reasons. But, losing rent isn’t the only concern.
Extra attention needs to be paid to the water systems of vacant properties, as the water will stagnate more easily.
For example, if your property is rented out to students and is empty during the summer, you’ll need to schedule regular visits to run the water. If the property is vacant for prolonged periods of time, it may be necessary to drain the water system completely.
Always flush the water system before new tenants move in.
Evidently, Legionella tests are vital. To take the stress and hassle out of carrying out one yourself, as well as ensuring it’s done correctly, we recommend using our professional Legionella risk assessment service. We’ll ensure your property is safe and that you’re compliant with regulations. These form part of the many services we offer for landlords and letting agents. Find out more about our property services here.
No Letting Go is hosting a series of free webinars to help landlords and letting agents get to grips with the legalities and praticalities of assessing legionella risk in residential rental properties.
Following the launch of its Legionella risk reporting service earlier in the year, Gary Claven, No Letting Go’s operations manager said, “We were surprised at how much confusion there was in the market place about compliance and the whole risk assessment process. We decided that a series of interactive webinars would be a good way for people to get concise and accurate information first hand.
Karen Morris, Lettings Manager for Hunters in Wokingham said, “I now have a thorough understanding of exactly what our obligations are around Legionella risk; the webinar really clarified things for me.”
Stacey George, Lettings Manager of Hunters, St Leonards on Sea added, “I’ve been able to put together a really good document for the team, we can now confidently answer any questions surrounding Legionella. We know exactly what we need to do and what records need to be kept. It was also good to get an understanding of what is involved in the assessment process, how risk is calculated and reported.”
Potentially fatal, around 550 cases of Legionella are reported each year. It’s thought that the numbers could be as high as 180,000; detection levels are low as it is not usually tested for and the disease presents with pneumonia-like symptoms.