When I was a search agent in London for over 20 years, it was all about location, location, location. Even when looking at new build flats, will the unit have a decent view. Location within a building was just as important. Make sure your buy to let stands out from the rest. River views or a unit that not face directly on to another building.
Buying a buy to let is a big investment and for many landlords it is their pension. Important to get it right. Therefore, there is a reluctance by landlords to allow any tenants that might damage the property. Students, tenants with pets fall into those categories of high risk.
The important point is how do you get over that mindset about pets and damage. At Pets Lets, we set up a Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group to help tenants with pets and advise landlords on the merits of allowing cats and dogs. Landlords and pet owners have more in common than they think.
The Irresponsible Minority of Pet owners & Landlords, tarnish their reputations.
The Solution to pet friendly rentals is about educating Landlords as opposed to enforced legislation.
- Landlords can no longer offset mortgages against tax. Stamp Duty has increased, and rental yields have dropped.
- Landlords are constantly under pressure. They do not like being forced to adapt and it is their nature to find a ‘loophole’, hence pet rents.
- Landlords feel everyone is against them and like pet owners they are equally passionate about not allowing pets into their properties. Pragmatism over passion is the solution. Landlords need to rent to people with dogs and cats on a case by case basis. Meet the tenants if possible and judge for yourself. Pet owners are more responsible than adults as they have mostly trained their dogs to be obedient.
Just Tweak the 2019 Tenants Fees Act
- Why is the 2019 Tenant Fees Act so important?
- This Act has curbed the deposit a landlord can request to 5 weeks rent. That is seen by many as not enough to cover any damage by a pet.
- A landlord cannot insist a tenant cleans the property, takes out extra insurance. Their hands are tied to ask for extra costs. Hence, some request an extra pet rent.
- Tweak the Act by stating that tenants with pets have to pay a bigger deposit, that they must have insurance to cover pet damage. Change it to reflect the European model in many EU countries.
Having set up Pets Lets, when you are out and about with clients looking to rent with their dogs and cats, it is still about location, but more about research, perseverance and more importantly act quickly.
Advice of an Experienced Pet Friendly Rental Relocation Agent
- Allow extra time when renting with dogs or cats. Do not leave it to the last minute.
- Narrow down your locations to a ‘handful’ and focus your search. Make sure the agents do not forget you and you are on their ‘A-Lists’.
- When you call an Agency, just because one colleague says no, it does not mean someone else in the office will not be helpful. Some agents have dogs, and they understand as well as sympathise with the issue of renting with a dog. Some go out of their way to help and will convince a landlord to consider a pet. We have seen this happen for clients.
- Affordability is the key word. If you can pay a few months up front, that makes all the difference.
- Offer to deep clean the property at the end of the tenancy as well as insurance to cover any potential damage.
- Time is money to a landlord, so the quicker you can move in the better and that helps stop the competition.
If the first property you find will accept your pet and you love it, don’t dither, go for it.
- I have seen too many people say, ‘wish I had’ and regret it. Choice is more limited and with property, whether you are buying or renting, compromises have to be made, whether it is property or budget related.
Lack of Communication
- Some agents do not want to advise their landlords to consider pets. It is a hassle, and the landlord is none the wiser.
- Pet friendly rentals is a huge market across the UK. It is growing rapidly and has been accelerated with lockdown by an extra 2 million dogs in the UK.
- Much easier to find a tenant with a pet. Millions of people in the UK are looking to find a dog or cat friendly rental. Competition is high and that is also against non-pet owners.
Post lockdown and the ‘UK landscape’ has changed on many fronts. With the need to stay at home, a lot of people became ‘Pet owners overnight’. In a recent survey by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), found that over 3 million people collected a new pet during the lockdowns, with 11% of households taking on new animals.
A chance to introduce a new member to the family or simply ‘have company’ at home. For others, dog walking was ‘an excuse’ to get out and exercise. Now half the UK population owns a pet and a lot of people did not think through the commitment of being a pet owner.
Pet Friendly Rentals: Supply v Demand
- The number of pet dogs in the UK has risen by 2 million to a total of 12 million.
- only 7% of Landlords allowing pets. That is according to the UK Government statistics.
- A recent survey by Landlord Zone has found from a poll of 1,500 UK landlords that 47% were open to renting to tenants with pets. The main point that came up, was that some properties are not suitable for cats and dogs. For example, a lack of a garden, the flat is small, or the freeholder does not allow pets. In many cases, the landlords want to say yes to pets, the freeholder says no.
- Demand far outstrips supply for pet friendly rentals across the UK. It is slowly improving, and it is easier if you have small dog or 1 cat. The more pets you have the increasingly difficult it can become.
- As well as agents, Facebook groups can help, such as Renting with Pets, where people ask for help and others offer local advice.
Pets Lets came about because I inherited 3 dogs from people who’s landlords said no. That combined with years of property experience, it made sense to set up the company and help people find pet friendly rentals. The lockdown puppy surge cannot be ignored. Like on-line shopping has been accelerated as a trend as opposed to the high street, landlords and agents, cannot continue to turn a ‘blind eye’ to a growing pool of renters with pets. Some are adapting others are not.
Having been an estate agent before becoming a search/ relocation agent, high street agencies slowly adapt. They are busy, some competing with each other, to ‘close the deal’ on lettings and sales. It is about getting the tenant signed up or the sale agreed. Anything that takes up too much time is a lesser priority. However, it is fair to say that some are more willing to help and some of the bigger agencies realise the importance of catering to pet owners.
Pets Lets, is all about pets and property, about creating a community. That is why I, Russell Hunt, set it up. Good luck finding your pet friendly rentals. If you need help feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org