The UK is a pet loving nation. Over lockdown, a staggering 3.2 million pets were bought over lockdown. So why do people talk about how difficult it is to find pet friendly rentals in the UK? It is a big topic of conversation across social media, at dinner parties, and is on the ‘agenda’ in the House of Commons, to make it easier to have Pets in Rented Homes.
Yet, the UK Government has so far refrained from legally enforcing landlords to accept pets in rented accommodation and has instead made suggestions. The end result is that nothing has changed, and the majority of UK landlords will opt for tenants without pets. The Dogs Trust Slogan of a dog is for life and not just for Christmas or indeed lockdown is so true.
Having a dog or cat is like having a child that needs to be looked after. Children go to nursery or to school, why not consider your dog being looked after by a dog walker or when you are away, there are plenty of people or companies who look after dogs. Adopting a pet has to be thought through and not just done on a whim.
Pets Returned Post Lockdown
Post lockdown has seen an increase in the number of dogs being returned due to lack of time with a return to working life in the office as well as difficulties in finding pet friendly accommodation. Unfortunately, too many people, when the going gets tough, return the family pet for an easy life.
The majority of UK landlords will not consider pets, with others only renting to tenants with pets, once all other avenues have been exhausted. Some landlords will even try and charge extra pet rents. There are some pet loving private landlords who are happy to allow pets in their rental properties. You find many that fall into this category, are renting out their own home, where they lived with their family pet, so to them it is not an issue, just natural.
Misguided Landlord perceptions of pets
More ‘professional’ landlords purely see their portfolios as investments, who want to keep ‘wear and tear’ from tenants to a minimum as they would prefer to re-decorate as little as possible. Having a dog or cat in a property is viewed as the property being damaged, carpets clawed and furniture chewed. These are the general perceptions of many UK landlords. Some will give pet owners a chance and say yes to renting to people with pets; others will not even consider it.
You even come across pet owners who sympathise with how difficult it is to find dog or cat friendly rentals, yet when it comes to their own property portfolios are ‘happy’ to say no to pets. A simple case of ‘head’ ruling the ‘heart’.
UK rental market transformed post lockdown
With post lockdown and continued social distancing, the response from agents, sellers and landlords, is that virtual viewings are here to stay
Why is that and what are the pros and cons of not seeing a property ‘in the flesh’.
- Whether buying or renting, it can be extremely beneficial if you are looking to move into a property and you are based far away. An extensive video tour can be enough for some people to get a feel for the property. This makes more sense for rentals rather than buying as the latter is a huge commitment. Better to have a property professional representing you than make an ‘expensive mistake’.
- Agreeing a sale or rental virtually, makes life easier for the seller or landlord as there is minimal disruption to tenants in situ or if it is your own home.
- The fact that people are still prepared to make offers without visiting a property, shows that the phenomena of the ‘virtual viewing’ is not just a lockdown novelty.
- The downside, particularly with selling a property, is that what happens when the buyer or tenant visits pre signing the rental agreement or pre-exchanging contracts and they don’t like the property, or it is not what they expected?
- Also, another negative; if the person offering does not know the area well, they may love the property, but the virtual tour does not cover the surrounding streets. What if they don’t want to live in that neighbourhood?
- Not seeing the property in the ‘flesh’, there is always that ‘what if’ and they may well pull out. Is it worth the risk going for a ‘virtual’ offer? That is why some estate agents will not agree an offer unless the property has been seen in person or by a representative. The risk of the deal falling through is too high. Particularly with selling a property, the seller does not want to incur costs such as legal fees to see the buyer change their mind. Rentals is different and with a fast moving market, tenants with or without pets are more flexible.
UK property market fluctuates with supply versus demand
- Will people make ‘virtual’ offers on properties when there are a lot of properties on the market. Less pressure, so why rush.
- With more supply than demand, will it make it easier for tenants with pets as landlords cannot ‘call all the shots’? Would the percentage of UK pet friendly rentals increase?
- When supply exceeds demand, there is also the ability to negotiate on rental and sales prices and that includes adding pets clauses to rental properties.
Some useful articles and estate agent websites when renting with petsA useful blog which give tips on renting with pets as well as your rights
This will help give a feel about the pet friendly UK rental market. Also visit the Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group, a popular group with lots of advice from pet owners.
- Build to Rents (BTR’s) are changing the face of the rental landscape in the UK. Good news for pet owners is that 47% of build to rent (BTR) developments are stating they are pet friendly.*
Why Build to Rents Will Stay v Traditional RentingHere are the key positive points of BTR’s compared to the traditional rentals
- Flexible contracts v tied a long-term contract
- Broadband & utilities are included. Simple v complications of setting it all up and being tied into a broadband contract with hefty fine if you leave early.
- Communal areas for work and play v sitting on your own
- No issue if you decide to get a pet v you might get evicted
- BTR’s are managed in-house v outsourced & mostly less reliable
- Meet people v again on your own
- Events, gyms, yoga or doga all on site v nothing
- Finally, BTR’s offer a positive vibe v many private rentals which can be more downbeat.
I, Russell Hunt, wrote this article, as the Founder of Pets Lets, a UK pet friendly property portal as well as offering clients a Relocation Service. Having represented property clients looking to buy, sell, rent for over 25 years you see it all.
Having grown up in London and adopted three dogs from people whose landlords said no, is a huge wake up call to how little landlords have changed over the years. There is still a ‘blanket’ no to pets and still many large buildings have no pets clauses. Hence the emergence of Pets Lets.