Published: 05/02/2016 By Mitch Moth - Lettings New Business ManagerFor tenants with pets, it’s long been an issue that rented accommodation whereby their pets are welcome are especially difficult to come by. When we say pets, the general enquiry is whether the Landlord will accept either a cat or a dog at the property. In many cases head leases dictate pets are not allowed, so the option is already out of the Landlords hands, but whereby the head lease is not restrictive or the rented property is a freehold and therefore the decision is the Landlords own, could Landlords benefit from offering their property to pet owners?
As a Landlord, what should you consider? The upside is that the demand from pet owners is on the increase. In days gone by many tenants simply didn’t own pets, but as the property landscape changes, so has the type of tenants we speak to. More families now rent their home and the RSPCA tell us that just shy of one in two families have a pet, with dogs being the UK’s favourite. At the time of writing, we’ve already have seven of our potential applicants this week express to us that they are looking for a home that is pet friendly. Landlords with family homes to rent could potentially open themselves up to another 50% of the market if they took pets into consideration, and that could make a big difference towards avoiding any potential void period.
There is of course a lot for a Landlord to consider before accepting pets. Firstly, what pet does the tenant have? Landlords main concern is usually damage or excessive wear and tear, so if for example you have a furnished property, with more to potentially damage a larger dog may not be a consideration for you, however if you have an unfurnished house with garden and a potential applicant has a much smaller dog then the likelihood of damage is far less and it could be a consideration.
Landlords will also, where applicable, want to consider their head lease and also their neighbours. Often head leases have pet restrictions and therefore you would not want to break these. It’s also worth considering the impact on any neighbours as to any potential noise. Most pet owners are of course considerate of their neighbours, but it can be a risk.
There are a number of benefits to not only accepting pets, but also marketing the property as pet friendly from the beginning. In a market with a lack of suitable property, potential applicants are going to home in on any property that is actively marketed as suitable for their four legged friend to live in. Where we’ve previously marketed properties such as these with a headline of ‘Pets Considered’ we have found that these properties have a view to enquiry ratio that is almost double other similar properties, so the demand is really there. It’s just another way to make your property stand out from the crowd. Another bonus is that many of these tenancies do tend to be long term as families tend to move either with work for a fixed contract period or move to be closer to a child’s school for the duration of their education. Long term tenancies mean no voids, so that is always to a Landlords benefit.
So it seems there are definitely advantages to accepting pets, but what can be done to minimise risk? What we have asked our tenants with pets for is an increased deposit of eight instead of the usual six weeks; this has been well received and many tenants plan in advance for this eventuality. We’ve also suggested to our Landlord that the tenancy includes a clause that the tenant will professionally clean the carpets and launder any curtains or other soft furnishings at the end of tenancy. This should therefore incentivise the tenants to keep the property in good condition, but also assures the Landlord of the condition they can expect to receive it at the end of the tenancy.
It is also prudent where possible to take a reference from the prospective tenants existing Landlord. This reference should confirm how the property has been looked after during the tenancy and if they tenant has already vacated, how it was left. You should get a good impression of how they will then treat your property from this.
Lastly, on-going management of the property is then important. Hamilton Chess will visit for a Landlord under our management service on the third month of the tenancy and then twice yearly thereafter, reporting back to the Landlord with photos as to how the property is being kept. If issues are noticed then they can be discussed with the tenant, and re-visited at a sooner and more frequent basis to ensure expected standards are met and then maintained.
Overall, the demand now for rented properties from pet owners is very high, so if you have a property to let or next time yours is due to come available, then it’s definitely worth considering your position and advertising as such from the outset.
For any questions or information, or if you have a property you are considering letting yourself then please do give us a call on 01753 624 000.