Tenants face heartbreak over landlord pet ban
Noisy and smelly – that's what property owners think of pets. A new scheme aims to change that.
Sunday 07 June 2009
It's an agonising choice, your home or your pet?
But it's one facing many more Britons as the housing market continues to splutter. Pet owners are being forced to give up their furry friends because landlords are reluctant to accept tenants with animals in their properties, according to the charity Dogs Trust. "Recently, we've seen a considerable increase in the number of owners contacting us about the difficulties they are experiencing finding privately rented accommodation that will allow pets," says Clare Kivlehan from the Dogs Trust, which has launched Lets with Pets, a campaign to convince more landlords to take animals.
Although three-quarters of landlords say they would allow pets, 54 per cent of pet owners were unable to find suitable accommodation, according to research undertaken by Dogs Trust. As a result, 14 per cent kept their pets secretly and 8.5 per cent were left with no choice but to give their pets to friends, family or a rescue centre. The charity, which has 17 rehoming centres across the country, is concerned that the credit crunch will only amplify the problem further. "Before the current economic crisis, many pet owners who couldn't find somewhere suitable to rent would be forced to buy. In the current climate this just isn't an option for many, and we're seeing an increase in people reluctantly handing over their dogs to us," says Ms Kivlehan.
The campaign website Letswithpets.org.uk is full of advice to help both tenants and landlords. The charity has compiled a list of top tips for prospective tenants to aid them in their search for a suitable home that they can share with their pets. Dogs Trust advises pet owners to put together an "animal CV" to alleviate any concerns a potential landlord might have. Common sticking points for landlords when it comes to pets are damage to the property, such as chewed wires and cables, pet smells, noise and fouling in the garden and surrounding areas. However, providing details on the size, breed, age and activity level of the dog, as well as information on any training classes and positive traits, gives pet owners a chance to convince landlords that they as well as their pets would make good tenants.
Similarly, any previous landlords, letting agents and vets can provide references and vouch for the good behaviour of pets. On a more practical level, home contents insurance and landlords insurance will not cover any damage to the property caused by pets, so offering to pay a larger deposit to cover potential damage will help. Promising to have curtains and carpets cleaned professionally before moving out can also make a big difference. "The general perception among landlords is that pets equal mess, carpets with fleas and smells that you can't get rid of, but that's not the reality if the property is treated and cared for like a home," says Mike Goddard, the chief executive of Belvoir Lettings, which supports the Dogs Trust campaign.
The website offers plenty of advice for landlords too, and with 43 per cent of the population owning a pet, any struggling landlords who make the decision to exclude pet owners could be shooting themselves in the foot by missing out on such a large part of the rental market. Dogs Trust says that a more pet-friendly approach can attract more dependable tenants, who take their responsibility as a pet owner seriously and are more likely to want to stay in the property for a long time. "We're making our members aware of the campaign and pointing out that there is a place for tenancy with pets and that it needs to be looked at on an individual basis," says Ian Potter, the operations manager of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla).
Landlords can also include a clause in the tenancy agreement covering any policy regarding pets they wish to introduce. This pet policy can cover a set of conditions which the tenant must abide by, such as ensuring that all pets have been vaccinated and are regularly treated for fleas and worms and not leaving dogs unsupervised for more than a few hours. The policy should also include details of the higher deposit being used to cover potential damage caused by pets, but some landlords may want to take an extra, non-refundable payment at the start of the tenancy to cover costs of professionally cleaning the property when the tenants move out. It may also be prudent for landlords to include in the policy an agreement that there will be ongoing monitoring to cover all eventualities. "One of the issues is if the circumstances of the owner change, for example if they start working longer hours, the pet's characteristics could change," says Mr Potter. And policies may, for example, state that tenants must apply for written permission if wanting to obtain an additional pet.
Letting agencies can also make a difference by removing blanket bans on pets and persuading landlords to consider pet owners as prospective tenants. "We're pleased to be supporting the campaign and aiming to get all 146 of our franchise owners to support it because we think it's a fantastic idea," says Mr Goddard. He argues that current difficulties in the property market should make landlords more open and more understanding of tenants' needs. "Particularly in the current climate, where there's an excess of property in some areas, landlords should be encouraging tenants into their properties," he says.
Before deciding whether to take on pet owners, landlords should always check their title deeds. Freehold properties are generally OK, but leasehold properties are more likely to pose a problem. However, landlords can approach the freeholder to see if the terms of the lease can be changed. For a property within a block of flats though, landlords will need permission from all the leaseholders.
Anyone secretly keeping their pets in a rented home can face disastrous consequences as landlords have the right to cancel the tenancy agreement.
'We asked could we have a goldfish and they said no'
Marta Ciesta, 33, a researcher living in Manchester, found herself in a difficult position when looking for a new home for herself and her dog, Taff. "We got Taff in 2004. If we would have known how difficult it would be to find a place with a dog, we would have thought about it twice," she says.
It was impossible to find landlords willing to allow pets, despite offering a higher deposit, says Marta. "As a joke we once asked if we were allowed a goldfish, and they said no."
In the end, Marta was forced to pretend she didn't have pets: "When we left, they hadn't noticed at all. It was super clean and we even rented with the same landlord a year later," she says. Despite this, she wouldn't recommend the deception as she could never rest easy at home.
Marta is on the move again, looking for a new home in Wales, but is finding things a little easier this time, with estate agents more willing to consider tenants with pets. She advises: 'View a property, allow the estate agent or landlord to get a good impression of you and then mention that you have a pet and offer references, a higher deposit or even introduce the pet."
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 200,000 back our campaign
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...
Day In a Page
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.