Pets are often considered a part of the family, yet a recent survey of 2,000 tenants has found that there are sometimes extra costs incurred when renting with them in the private rented sector. While this situation looks set to change with new legislation, it’s important to take a look at these extra costs and see whether or not this will carry over with the changes to private renting.
With the Renters’ Reform Bill (RRB) slated to remove so-called ‘blanket bans’ on keeping pets at a rental property, there will instead be an implied term of a tenancy that a tenant can keep a pet with the landlord’s prior consent.
Of course, there will be exceptions where a landlord can reasonably refuse these requests in some circumstances (See our guide Renting with Pets Under Renters Reform Bill for more details) but generally speaking, a tenant cannot be outright refused.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the recent survey, what it revealed, and how that may influence changes to the Renters’ Reform Bill in the coming months and years.
Paying extra to keep pets
In October 2023, a survey by the comparison website Confused.com found that 13% of tenants had paid their landlord an additional bond or deposit to keep pets, while 10% had to pay an extra cleaning fee. The survey noted that renters with pets paid, on average, approximately £236 extra in deposit fees and £151 in cleaning fees.
The research also claimed that tenants with pets (or children) are paying a premium on their rent and bills as opposed to other renters. Confused.com cites a figure of £460, although there is no clear distinction between these two groups in terms of this amount.
On this front, renters are sure to welcome parts of the RRB once it is passed into law, not only because it will enable pet owners to choose and rent from a wider range of properties, but also because it will mean tighter laws on the financial elements of renting, such as additional fees and so on, according to Property Reporter.
But arguably for renters, the ability to own a pet for the first time or find a pet-friendly property without jumping through hoops or severely limiting one’s options is going to be the most welcomed aspect of the RRB.
Dogs Trust called it a game changer, saying it will reduce the number of animals needing to be rehomed due to uncertainty around renting. The charity cites a change in the owners’ circumstances, like being unable to live in a rented property with a pet, as the most common cause of animals being given up.
Can landlords refuse pets?
If a tenant wants to rent with pets, they must first seek prior written consent from a landlord. By law, private landlords are not allowed to unreasonably withhold or delay a written request from a tenant, but that doesn’t mean that tenants have a right to rent with pets. It is still down to the landlord’s discretion whether or not they refuse a tenant’s request to rent with pets.
As per the Government’s website:
“A Tenant must seek the prior written consent of the Landlord should they wish to keep pets or other animals at the Property. A Landlord must not unreasonably withhold or delay a written request from a Tenant without considering the request on its own merits. The Landlord should accept such a request where they are satisfied the Tenant is a responsible pet owner and the pet is of a kind that is suitable in relation to the nature of the premises at which it will be kept. Consent is deemed to be granted unless the written request is turned down by a Landlord with good reason in writing within 28 days of receiving the request.”
The guidance on this clause says:
“Clause C3.5 prohibits a landlord from exercising a blanket ban on pets. A responsible pet owner will be aware of their responsibilities in making best efforts to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households or undue damage to the Property. A landlord should take steps to accommodate written requests from responsible tenants with pets. They should only turn down a request in writing within a 28 day period if there is good reason to do so, such as large pets in smaller properties or flats, or otherwise properties where having a pet could be impractical. Landlord consent is therefore the default position unless otherwise specified in writing by a landlord. If consent is given on the condition that additional deposit is paid by the tenant, the total deposit must not breach the deposit cap introduced under the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and must be protected in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme.”
What is a Pet CV and Will it Help?
Other good news for renters with pets comes in the form of a relatively new initiative. A pet CV can help a tenant’s application to rent a property stand out from other people with or without animals. Just as an employer may want to assess an applicant’s suitability for a vacancy, this informal, non-binding document would describe how well-behaved a cat, dog or other pet is.
Conveying details of their pet’s nature can reassure landlords who are renting out their property. The information included can tell landlords why an applicant would be a responsible tenant and take steps to ensure that their pet does not cause damage or behave in an anti-social way. This concept can therefore reassure both parties in theory and at the landlord’s discretion.
In a pet CV, some key points to cover would include the breed and age as well as any training the pet has had. Also including health-related details such as a contact number for their vet, their last vaccination and when they were given worming and flea tablets, will go towards demonstrating a tenant’s suitability for the property.
Many landlords want to accommodate people with pets but naturally worry about the practicalities involved, and the costs should anything go wrong. Therefore, providing details of a potential pet ‘babysitter’ or ‘next of kin’ should the tenant go into hospital will also assure them that they will be cared for if an emergency occurs. Equally, applicants could describe when the pets will be regularly left unattended, such as during the day when they will be at work.
Whilst most renters with pets will typically own a dog or cat, it is still recommended to submit a pet CV and reference for rabbits, hamsters and other animals. In fact, it could be more important as these are less common pets, and demonstrates to the landlord that the tenant is conscientious and considerate.
Pet CV template
A pet CV template can often be the best way for agents or landlords to manage these requests, as they follow pre-configured frameworks that are consistent and repeatable and can be customised to take into account any additional variables.
In the Inventory Base Template Library, you’ll find two distinct report types tailored for pet-related matters.
Tenant Pet Report: This report template serves the purpose of providing a structured format for prospective tenants. It enables them to submit a request for their pet to be taken into consideration when applying for a new tenancy.
Vet Pet Report: Designed for practicing vets or veterinary services, this report template provides a structured format to assist prospective tenants in their request for pet consideration when applying for a new tenancy.
Common questions likely to be found on a pet CV (tenant pet report) can include the following:
- Is the pet registered with a Vet?
- Is the pet insured?
- Is the pet chipped?
- Is the pet neutered / spayed?
- Is the pet subject to a regular flea programme?
- Is the pet subject to a regular worming programme?
- Has the pet had all jabs / inoculations?
- Is the pet kept solely indoors?
- Does the pet have outdoor access?
- Is there a cat / dog flap installed at the premises?
- Is the pet looked after in the home during holidays?
- Is the pet looked after in a cattery / boarding kennels during holidays?
- Is your current landlord willing to provide a reference?
What Does Propertymark Say?
Propertymark, the membership body for property agents, has also written about the value of including a CV and references for pets. They go one step further and suggest that those looking to rent a property “introduce your pet to the landlord so they can see how they behave first hand. The more information your landlord has, the more likely they’ll accept your tenancy with a pet”.
Backed by positive ‘references’ regarding past addresses where they have owned a pet, this gesture can convince sceptical landlords that the applicant won’t let the property fall into disrepair. From the other perspective, it could prevent irresponsible pet owners from damaging a landlord’s investment due to their pet’s behaviour.
Propertymark has issued other important advice for landlords and renters, reminding tenants that they should not get a pet without their landlord’s permission first. Doing so after moving in can have serious consequences, as landlords or letting agents will usually include a tenancy clause reminding renters that pets are not permitted there. Tenants who go against this stipulation could find themselves evicted, causing emotional distress for all and leaving the property vacant.
Propertymark also states that the landlord may add additional clauses to a tenancy agreement relating to the pet. These could cover issues such as fouling and not leaving pets unattended for too long, and should be taken seriously. They remind tenants to avoid damage as the landlord is within their rights to deduct additional cleaning costs or repairs from their tenancy deposit. This would happen when they can demonstrate the property was not returned in the same condition as at the start.
Being responsible with pets
There are additional tips that can enhance the experience of renting/renting out a property where pets are involved. Advice from mydeposits said that things can be grouped into two themes – minimising costs and preventing issues.
Mydeposits recommends landlords to take stock and understand the condition of the property at the start. Inventories and photographs can prove useful here. Understanding that this condition is a benchmark against which the property will be compared following the end of the tenancy is key. Indeed, maintaining the property and regular cleaning can keep the house or apartment close to this standard.
Living there responsibly also means looking after a pet’s health and ensuring that their worming and flea treatments are given on time. This will avoid the expense of floor treatments should an infestation occur.
In addition, renters should keep their pet’s noise to a minimum as this can upset nearby neighbours. Understandably, a landlord will want to keep good relations with those living close to their property and this effort from tenants can avoid tensions from arising.
Another potential issue to avoid is the odour and appearance of animal mess in the garden or communal areas. As noted previously, the landlord is within their rights to add tenancy clauses regarding this potential issue. Following these steps is therefore part of being a conscientious tenant, pet owner and neighbour.
Ensure good landlord-tenant relationships with Inventory Base
Designed with the residential lettings market in mind, our inspection and inventory software helps landlords, inventory professionals and agents to comprehensively document property conditions.
Doing so sets a standard for the tenant, and if they’re keeping pets, this will prove vital to ensure the property is kept in the best possible condition throughout the tenancy period and that no clauses in the contract are broken.
If you want to learn more, book a demo today.