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Is it time to accept tenants with pets?

Posted on 2017-06-12

Whether to allow tenants to keep pets in a rental property has long been a big question for landlords. The general consensus from research over the years is that the majority of landlords are against permitting tenants to have pets in their properties.

Our recent research has backed up these theories, finding that the majority of tenants don't keep pets in their rental property. Our survey of over 20,000 tenants found that 44% are not allowed pets as stipulated by their tenancy agreement, while 33% have no pets by choice. Some 9% of renters we spoke to have dogs, 9% have cats, 2% have both dogs and cats and 3% have other pets.

When it comes to landlords, a significant 57% of the 3,500+ we surveyed said they wouldn't consider a tenant with pets. However, a quarter (26%) said they would accept most animals, 11% would accept cats only and 6% would accept dogs only.

As we can see, not all landlords are against lets with pets, but the majority still choose not to allow their tenants to keep animals.

Has the time now come for this viewpoint to be turned on its head? Would landlords benefit from being more flexible when it comes to pets? Below, we take a look at some of the pros and cons of lets with pets and explain how landlords can increase their pool of potential tenants by being more open-minded.

The pros and cons of allowing pets

The predominant advantages and disadvantages of allowing tenants to keep pets are well-documented, as are the procedures landlords should take if they are thinking about opening up their rental property to animals.

Here's a quick recap on some of the main pros and cons:

The negatives associated with allowing tenants to keep pets could be the additional noise, the nuisance they could cause neighbours, damage to the property and unwanted smells and odours.

On the flipside, allowing pets means renters could be more likely to be happy and the rental property will feel more like a proper home. These factors combined will increase the chance of tenants renewing their contract, staying for longer and therefore ultimately reducing the landlord's void periods.

Could you increase your pool of prospective tenants?

As we touched on above, landlords who are more flexible about pets in rental properties can benefit from being able to choose from a wider pool of prospective renters.

Demand from private tenants is at an all-time high, and so by opening your parameters even further, it's likely your property will be let extremely quickly which is of course beneficial for your cashflow and overall finances.

That's not to say you should start accepting tenants with pets without putting any sort of procedure in place. Firstly, you need to decide which type of pets you'd be willing to accept.

It's also advisable that if you do take an application from a tenant with a pet that you contact their previous landlord or letting agent to make sure there were no pet-related problems during their last tenancy.

Some landlords also like to 'meet' the pet before handing over the keys to a tenant, so this is something you can also consider.

Renters with pets vs. ‘benefits tenants’

One recent piece of research suggests that landlords are more likely to accept tenants with pets than those that are on benefits. BBC analysis of around 11,000 property advertisements found that only 2% of landlords were open to accepting tenants who receive benefits. The proportion of landlords accepting pets, meanwhile, was double at approximately 4%.

While the proportion of adverts accepting pets in rental properties is lower than most figures out there, this study goes some way to highlight that there are other groups of tenants viewed in a less favourable light than those with pets.

Being flexible could pay off

Accepting all tenants with pets is admittedly a bit of a risk, but with the right management and procedures in place it’s a risk that might well be worth taking. By making sure you have the right insurance cover, you have a pet disclaimer in your tenancy agreements and being proactive in finding out that you’re not accepting problem pets, then you could benefit from this increased flexibility.

As the figures show, it’s still more common for landlords not to accept pets and so those that do cautiously allow tenants to bring animals into their homes can make their property stand out in a crowded marketplace and advertise to a wider demographic of tenants.

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