According to property website Zoopla, half the adult population currently owns a pet, and with adults in their 30s and 40s three times as likely to rent today as they were 20 years ago, there are a lot of tenants who need pet-friendly homes.
Traditionally, many landlords and letting agents have been hesitant to allow tenants to keep pets in their properties. But with animal shelters and charities reporting surges in demand for puppies and kittens during lockdown, finding suitable long-term shelter for both humans and their furry friends has become a hot topic.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick unveiled government plans in January to revise the model tenancy contracts for renters, which can be used as the basis of lease agreements made between tenants and landlords, to remove restrictions on well-behaved pets.
"Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing," he said, "so it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property."
A revised model tenancy agreement is expected to be published by the government later this year. In the meantime, here are five top tips for finding a suitable rental for you and your pet.
1. Start planning early
Decent pet-friendly rental properties can be challenging to find. Not only will the tenancy agreement need to permit pets, your new home will need to tick certain boxes.
For example, if you have a cat, you’ll need to make sure the property is away from a main road and has a cat flap. For dog owners, making sure your new home is big enough and close to a park is likely to be a priority. Zoopla’s search tool can help. Simply put in the area you want to live in and then click "filter results" to select "pets allowed".
2. Make a good case for your pet
If you’ve found a landlord that is open to pets but needs a bit of persuading, there are things you can do to put them at ease. For example, provide them with your pet’s medical details, such as last vaccinations, flea and worming treatments and microchipping and neutering confirmation. If you’ve previously rented, ask your former landlord for a reference to prove that your pet has been well behaved and caused no issues at the property.
3. Amend the contract
The vast majority of rental contracts are Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements. These set out basic details such as the start date and length of the tenancy, the cost of rent and the notice you will be required to give if you want to leave. The contract will also set out what you can and can't do in the property, for example decorate – or have a pet. The beauty of AST agreements is that they can be amended to suit both parties before you sign. In this case, you could suggest that, while the tenancy agreement is amended to allow a pet, it also includes specific obligations around it such as keeping the property clean and free from unpleasant smells.
4. Introduce your pet to your landlord
Another way to put your potential landlord’s mind at ease is to have them meet your pet in advance, although this is really only relevant with dogs. Once the landlord has met your dog they can see how your animal interacts with strangers and how well behaved they are. If you are comfortable doing so, you could invite the landlord to your current home to prove you’re a responsible tenant and your pet has a good nature.
5. Don’t keep a pet without consent
Always be upfront with your landlord about keeping pets in a property. If they discover, through property inspections or, worse, through complaints from neighbours, that you are keeping a pet without consent, you could find yourself in trouble. This is a breach of contract which is grounds to start an eviction process.