Rental service Home Made has reported a huge jump in enquiries for pet-friendly rental properties – up 50% – in recent weeks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The increase comes as many people have found themselves stuck at home in lockdown, with more time on their hands, longing for a companion. This change, along with several others that have come about as behaviour has altered during recent months, means that it might now be worth a landlord making their letting properties available to pet owners, irrespective of the general wear and tear that goes with a cat or dog.

As many people and their employers have realised that they can work from home, and businesses are looking at ways for home-working to become more normalised, people are reassessing whether or not they have the scope to have a pet. This means an increased demand for pet-friendly rental properties and landlords will find in the coming months that they may well need to adapt and review their policies if they want to let their property quickly.

The worry for most landlords is that pets cause more day to day wear and tear than people on their own. That said, people with pets will generally stay in the same place for longer so they could help to lower the risk of a landlord being stuck with an empty property for an extended period.
When it comes to decorating, carpets are more likely to show damage than a smooth floor, and while laminate is cheaper to fit and harder to scratch, a scratch on a hardwood floor is much easier to repair.

This might also mean that properties with gardens or outdoor space will be easier to let in the coming months.

Other adaptations to consider would be simple modifications such as a cat flap.

If you do choose to allow pets, make sure that you update listings immediately to maximise your chance of finding the right tenant. You might choose to update your agreements or end of tenancy procedures around cleaning, for example, and having free property management software available can make a big difference in keeping on top of it all. 

Responsible pet owners will keep their animal up to date with vaccinations, worming and flea treatments, which can all help to put your mind at ease. Where checking references might be standard practice for prospective tenants, you might want to consider asking for a reference from a landlord who has accepted the pet to reassure you that it did not cause issues.

You are within your rights to include an agreement in your contract about keeping the property clean, or covering the costs of a one-off deep clean at the end of the contract. You might want to consider a higher initial deposit to cover any additional potential damage, or increase the number of routine inspections you carry out. Experienced pet owners will be used to these additions. Any stipulation surrounding pets must be agreed by both parties at the beginning of the arrangement and by considering now what you could or couldn’t accept will help once your property is on the market again.

Not every potential tenant will have a pet, although the pandemic will have had an impact on other tenant requests too.

People have been walking much more, or cycling, both for physical well-being and to avoid using public transport. Reports suggest that this trend may well continue, so having bicycle storage facilities will be a plus. Where once the proximity to a tube station might have added value, how close your property lies to routes with cycle lanes might be set to become more important.