There are many things to consider when letting a buy to let property, and pets is one of them. Whether you are an animal lover or not, you may decide that you do not want pets in your investment for various reasons, but are you able to refuse?
Landlords can refuse to allow pets within their rental property on reasonable grounds. Reasons could include the conditions of the buildings lease agreement, covenants, allergies or the landlords insurance policy. Tenants should always seek permission before keeping any type of pet on the premises.
Your decision on whether pets will be allowed or not, should be reflected in your advertisement when you place the property on the rental market. It will save both you and the prospective tenants time on wasted viewings.
Refusing to accept pets on reasonable grounds, will of course, reduce the number of tenants searching for a suitable property, so it is worth giving this issue some serious thought. You can rest assured though, whether you agree to pets or not, both you and the tenant will have a clear understanding of what is expected throughout the tenancy before signing the Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST).
Recommendations For Landlords When Considering Pets
The UK is a nation that loves pets, and there appears to be a market that is underserved within the private rented sector.
The RSPCA estimates that there are 12 million (44% of households) that have pets, with around 51 million pets owned. In contrast to the latest figures on the ONS website with 4.5 million people renting within the private rented sector.
When I bought my first investment property, I didn’t own any pets myself and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I was too keen to allow pets. Back then, I think I viewed pets as an additional risk to my expensive investment which I didn’t need to take.
Now I have gained some experience as a landlord, and having allowed pets in the past on request during a tenancy agreement and having no problems whatsoever, I am becoming more and more open to the idea.
As landlords, we should aim to provide an excellent service to our customers. This includes listening to the market needs and adapting in order to out perform local competition.
I also believe there’s a good chance that a tenant who owns a pet will likely stay longer. And that’s good news for any landlord. With this in mind, and to help set myself up for success, there a few things I will do in the future:
Install hard floors when renovating
I have considered this anyway as they are easier to clean and maintain, plus they provide better wear and tear, providing I stay away from the cheap stuff.
Purchase pet friendly furniture
When letting a property either fully or part furnished. This includes items that are fitted with synthetic microfibre, leather and outdoor fabrics as they are not so vulnerable to stains and are easier to clean. They are also less likely to absorb unwanted smells.
I don’t believe any fabric is immune to scratching, but damage caused to items on the inventory will be covered by the tenancy deposit.
Seek a reference from the previous landlord
In addition to referencing a tenant in the traditional way, I would attempt to make contact with the previous landlord to see whether the tenant is a responsible pet owner as well as being a reliable tenant.
Pets allowed doesn’t equate to all pets
Although I would be open to the idea of agreeing to the more traditional type of pet; cat, dog, hamster and goldfish, I wouldn’t necessarily agree to exotic animals such as tarantulas and snakes.
It may sound like I am being too picky, but there may be times when I have to enter the property, by myself, or with a tradesman to carryout repairs. Facing a creature that I do not know how to handle could be problematic. I would also want to be assured, during the referencing process, that the animal is friendly.
Include reasonably worded pet clauses in the tenancy agreement
If a prospective tenant would like to move into my buy-to-let with a pet, as a minimum, I will ask the tenant for the pets name, type of animal and breed to enter the details onto the tenancy agreement.
There are 3 ways you can do this:
1. Simple Clause in the AST
The tenant agrees to:
Pay for the property to be professionally cleaned with de-infestation cleaner at the end of the tenancy if de-infestation is necessary, in addition to the cleaning clause of this agreement. The tenant will be liable to compensate the landlord for any losses suffered due to flea infestation by an animal of the tenant, their family or visitors.
To take reasonable steps to keep <pets name> under control during the tenancy.
To keep the garden free of fouling by the pet during the tenancy.
2. Add a pet policy to the tenancy agreement
If you would prefer to have more specific details and conditions within your tenancy agreement, before the tenant move in, you can include a pet policy.
You can download a Pet Policy pdf for free or simply copy, paste and amend to suit your needs. You’re welcome!
3. Include an addendum to the tenancy agreement
Completing an addendum is a great way of granting permission and agreeing to additional terms and conditions, with a tenant who has already occupied the property.
You can download a Pet Addendum pdf for free or simply copy, paste and amend to suit your needs. You’re welcome! Again!
Can A Landlord Say No To Guide Dogs In The UK?
A landlord cannot refuse a guide dog on the grounds of a ‘no pets allowed’ policy within the rental agreement. Service, or assistance, dogs are not pets. They are a mobility aid having received extensive training and who undergo continuous care, to assist individuals with certain disabilities.
Guide dog owners also receive thorough training to ensure their companion is well groomed with good hygiene at all times. There is no risk to the properties furniture or furnishings as guide dogs are trained to always be at the feet of their owner.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for landlords and agents to refuse prospective tenants with guide dogs, on the grounds of ‘no pets allowed’. It is also unlawful to request a higher tenancy deposit from an owner with a guide dog.
Can A Landlord Stop A Pet From Visiting?
Landlords cannot stop a pet from visiting a tenants home. But tenants should be mindful that they will be responsible for any damage caused to the property. Irrespective of whether the damage is caused by themselves, family and friends visiting, or pets visiting.
Essentially, the tenant must accept responsibility for any damage caused by visiting pets, which could also include extra cleaning to remove cat hair for example.
Can Landlords Evict A Tenant For Having A Pet?
Landlords can serve a Section 8 eviction notice under the Housing Act 1988 to tenants who have breached a fixed term tenancy agreement with a ‘no pets allowed’ clause. Although a judge may reject the application if the pet hasn’t proved to be a nuisance or caused damage to the property.
Tenants who have passed their fixed term period and are on a rolling contract, can be served with a Section 21 eviction notice under the Housing Act 1988.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that tenants should have a right to ask permission to keep a pet, and that the landlord cannot refuse without good reason. Acceptable reasons include conditions in the buildings lease, covenants, allergies or the landlords insurance policy.
Can A Landlord Refuse Emotional Support Pets In The UK?
Emotional Support Animals are not recognised as certified assistance animals in the UK. This means that the rules which apply to other assistance animals, such as guide dogs, do not apply to emotional support pets. Landlords can refuse if they have a ‘no pets allowed’ clause in the tenancy agreement.
An Emotional Support Animal is a pet that helps alleviate symptoms of a mental or emotional disability through companionship and affection.
Few properties in the UK allow pets in the current private rented sector. Landlords often state in their tenancy agreements that pets are not allowed in their property and won’t allow tenants who already have pets. Therefore, people with emotional support pets are finding it difficult when searching for suitable rental properties.
The UK, at time of writing, does not have laws that support individuals looking for a rental property who already own a pet. Tenants keeping a pet whilst their tenancy agreements specifically states that no pets are allowed, are breaching their contracts and could therefore face eviction. This can be an added stress for anyone, and especially to someone experiencing mental or emotional difficulties.
I will update this article if laws are introduced to change the current circumstances.