The latest proposal to come from the Labour Party, along with a number of other proposals effecting the welfare of animals, is a possible insistence in policy that landlords can no longer disallow pets.
The fact is that the British are supposed to be pet lovers, but British landlords may not be such lovers of pets when those pets are in the properties they let out, says David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com.
Given the choice it seems a majority of private landlords would just say “No” to any pet larger than a goldfish.
If anything, landlords tend to favour dogs over cats because it is thought that cats can do a lot of damage if they scratch soft furnishings. And most landlords say No to dogs, especially of the hairy and moulting variety.
Renting a Flat – Often Pets are Not Welcome
If you are renting a flat or any property governed by estate regulations, such as most flats are, before you rent, it may be worth asking if the terms of the head lease have any prohibition on pets. The landlord or letting agent should know. Of course, you could just take the risk and hope that an annoying neighbour does not point out that your dog or cat isn’t allowed and makes trouble for you.
About 30% of leases are thought to have such a prohibition. It’s not clear how Labour’s proposal would deal with this, unless they also plan to revise years of archaic freehold-leasehold law at the same time.
It’s not just pet mess, a key reason for many leases having a pets bar will be noise issues. Dogs left in a house on their own all day, tend to break out in fits of barking – and it can be deeply unpleasant being in a flat (or house for that matter) that is adjacent to this kind of noise.
So be honest that you have an animal and if it is a dog, and if you are going to be out at work, tell the landlord that you will use the services of a dog walker.
At the moment, landlords are, of course, under no legal obligation to accept pets.
Landlords Have No Legal Obligation To Accept Pets
But are landlords who refuse pets right now missing out and reducing the size of their market? Yes, possibly they are. But some landlords do like pets and are aware that there is an under-served market for tenants who have pets.
Some landlords set out within the terms of the tenancy agreement exactly which types of pets are acceptable and which aren’t. A “Pet Clause” can be included and be quite specific and state the breed as well as the age and even the name of the pets. This will ensure that a small dog is not replaced with something old, mangy and incontinent and which is constantly barking. Everyone can be happy.
Another solution is to get references for the pet from a previous landlord to confirm that the pet is indeed a suitable “tenant” for the property. Some landlords might want to visit you at your current place of residence. Others may ask for a higher deposit to protect against any damage. Many landlords ask for an additional deposit of one to three weeks rent on top of the normal standard deposit to cover the added cost-risk of a dog or cat. Some request a non-returnable flea deposit which will be used at the end of the tenancy to get rid of any possible infestations. But remember, the government is also planning to limit deposits to six weeks’ rent anyway.
Some landlords request in the tenancy agreement that the pet must not be in the house at times when workmen are on site to do maintenance jobs or when prospective tenants come to view at the end of the tenancy. However, there is a risk that this kind of clause could fall foul of being an unfair term if tested in court. (In my experience, about 15% of people are allergic to cat hairs and these people will not go into a property that has them inside).
Renting with Pets in a House Share
If you are renting a house share where the people living there change rapidly over time as one person moves out and another moves in, if one of them has a cat, this will mean the property could be a non-starter for the 15% who will not want to share with a cat. So pets in house shares are probably the hardest proposition of all!
Some owners hate to be parted from their pets – even at death – so some tenancy agreement say the faithful friend must not be buried in the garden.
It is not just the Brits who are pet mad. Now that we have pet passports more and more foreign visitors on work secondment in the UK are bringing their pets with them, meaning that there is strong demand for pet friendly accommodation.
The Dogs Trust has a useful “Lets with Pets” section for those tenants who want a home for a pet and for landlords who are prepared to consider it. See www.LetsWithPets.org.uk
The bottom line is – if you have a pet, be honest about it with the landlord or letting agent.
If you have been with a landlord and have a good relationship and are thinking of getting a pet, ask him or her. If you are a god tenant, most landlords will trust that you will supervise an animal properly.
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