For the nation's landlords, deciding whether to accept tenants with pets has never been an easy choice to make.
There are the additional insurance costs and damage concerns to consider. However, landlords must also think about the wider pool of prospective tenants available and the chances of renters staying for longer if pets are welcome.
It's a difficult balancing act for landlords and something that has been made possible by taking a range of protective measures.
All that looks set to change, however, as the Tenant Fees Act comes into force on June 1. It's therefore time to look at how the Act's five-week security deposit cap could have a significant effect on those landlords willing to accept tenants with pets...
Rising appetite for pet-friendly lets
As more people rent for longer and living in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) becomes more of a lifestyle choice, the number of tenants seeking rental properties which accept pets is on the rise.
According to a study by SpareRoom, 78% of pet-owning renters said they struggled to find a pet-friendly home, demonstrated by just 5% of ads across the flatsharing website saying they would consider pets.
On top of this, some 69% of landlords surveyed by SpareRoom said they didn't allow pets in their properties, despite 17% of tenants paying a higher rent each month for their landlord to accommodate their pet.
The desire for lets with pets is also reinforced by the latest Zoopla rental listings research , which found that the search term 'pets' featured in the top three most searched property features in every region across Britain.
How could the Tenant Fees Act affect lets with pets?
When landlords allow their tenants to keep pets, they’re generally aware that this decision is likely to mean their property requires more maintenance and upkeep both during and after a tenancy.
The research from SpareRoom found that the top reasons for landlords not allowing pets into their homes were the smell, damage, pets not being house trained and worries about noise complaints.
It seems, though, that landlords who do allow pets are willing to make this sacrifice in order to either retain long-term tenants or attract a wider pool of prospective renters.
What’s more, it’s widely accepted that landlords who allow pets charge their owners a slightly higher deposit to cover any additional repairs or cleaning required due to the presence of a pet.
However, with security deposits set to be capped at five weeks’ rent from June 1, many pet-accepting landlords will no longer be able to do this.
This could lead to two outcomes – a much smaller proportion of landlords accepting pets or landlords charging higher rents to tenants in order to be able to do so.
Lucy Morton, Head of residential at London letting agency JLL predicts that the deposit cap could see rents for tenants with pets rise by 3-4%. And this could affect a significant number of tenants and landlords when considering the data above and JLL's estimation that there has been a 25% increase in renters with pets in the last five years (due to increase in cat and dog ownership, relaxed quarantine laws and a broader trend for longer tenancies).
The advantages and disadvantages of accepting pets
As outlined above, there are numerous benefits and downsides to accepting tenants who have pets. Here are some of the key points to consider:
Three key advantages of lets with pets
1) Tenants allowed to keep pets could be encouraged to stay for longer, reducing void periods.
2) Having pets is proven to be beneficial for people’s mental health, particularly those with depression, anxiety or conditions such as autism and ADHD.
3) Accepting pets can increase landlords’ pool of prospective tenants so they can let their properties quicker.
Three key disadvantages of lets with pets
1) There is an increased risk of damage and unwelcome odours when accepting pets in a rental property.
2) Additional noise from pets could upset neighbours or disrupt community harmony.
3) Accepting pets could leave landlords with increased administration, relating to insurance, tenancy agreements, cleaning and repairs.
As a landlord, when it comes to allowing renters to keep pets, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what’s best for you, all the while considering legislation which will impact your decision such as the Tenant Fees Act.