Renting with pets - tips and advice

Here at The Letting Company we love pets as much as anyone... but they can drive both tenants and landlords barking mad, with many owners still not allowing animals and when they do, the pets can cause a whole set of new issues.

Here are some top tips from our Office Manager, Louise Rock, on making it a purr-fect tenancy.

Can I legally have a pet in my rental property?

In January 2021, the Government revealed figures that only 7% of landlords actively advertise that their rental property accepts pets. However under the Model Tenancy Agreement, announced by Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP announced in the same month, landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets by default.

Instead, consent for pets will be the default position, and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.

The Model Tenancy Agreement is the government’s recommended contract for landlords. With figures showing that more than half of adults in the United Kingdom own a pet and many more welcoming pets into their lives during the pandemic, these changes mean more landlords will cater for responsible pet owners.

On 16 June 2022, the Government published A fairer private rented sector. There is a plan to introduce a Renters’ Reform Bill in the 2022-23 parliamentary session to “ensure landlords do not unreasonably withhold consent when a tenant requests to have a pet in their home

What would class as a "reasonable excuse" for me to not be allowed my pet in a rental property?

Under the new agreement, rejections should only be made where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical.

Another reason would be a ban from a third party, typically the block company who oversee the management of an apartment building. As block companies are responsible for the upkeep of all communal arears within the building, they often put clauses within the lease between them and the owner of the apartment not to allow pets within the property.

What if I need a guide or assistance dog?

Under the Equality Act 2010, service providers (including landlords) must not directly or indirectly discriminate against people with a disability. Section 20(3) says they must make reasonable adjustments where a provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person.

What amounts to a reasonable adjustment will depend on individual circumstances. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Guidance for social housing providers, says a landlord would have to change a tenancy agreement prohibiting pets to allow a tenant to keep a guide or assistance dog as a reasonable adjustment because: “Failure to do so may risk breaching Article 14 of the Human Rights Act (Prohibition of Discrimination).”

Before You Move In

Some landlords will accept pets, but will increase your deposit to the maximum 5 week cap as per the Tenant Fee Ban 2019, to account for your furry (or otherwise) friend.

For tenancies with pets at the Letting Company, we include a Pet Policy with your moving in pack.

Louise said: “The policy covers things like keeping your pet from causing an annoyance to others, keeping them from damaging the property and not leaving them alone for any extended period of time without have clear arrangements having been made.

“We also have to stick to the Dangerous Dogs guidance, and if you do have a dog which comes under that act, then unfortunately we would have to decline permission.”


Top Tips for Tenants

So you’ve moved in with your pet. Here are some tips to get you ahead of the pack when it comes to keeping your property clean and tidy.

-          Consider having your carpet cleaned once a year to keep it looking as fresh as possible. Fur can soon build up over time and it can be a nightmare to sort out if left too long.

-          Keep your pet in a designated area. If you keep your pets downstairs for example, that saves you half a property’s extra work.

-          Be honest and don’t hide the fact you have a pet. It’s much better to be upfront at the start – you don’t want to start the tenancy on the wrong foot.

-          Remember you are liable for your pet when it comes to your tenancy. It doesn’t matter if it is you or your cat that spills coffee on the carpet; you will be the one who has to pay up at the end of it.

-          Help your pet settle in, a move can be as stressful for them as it can be for you. Make it as relaxing and easy as possible for them. A good tip is to leave an item of clothing that smells like you in each room, to entice your pet in to explore on their own terms.

-          Be a good neighbour. Nothing makes landlords growl more than neighbours complaining about noise or mess.

-          Consider pet insurance on your tenancy against any unforeseen damage. If you have contents insurance, make sure it includes your pet. And if your pet is insured through your vets, make sure they know your new address!


Potential Problems

Cats and dogs are the most common animal tenants, but we have had others from the animal kingdom too.

Louise said: “It’s not just cats and dogs which can cause problems. Snakes can be slippery customers too – I once found piles of shed snake skin left behind after a tenant moved out. We’ve had everything from hamsters to snakes, bearded dragons and tarantulas too.

“The main issues we usually find are chewed wires, scratched walls and skirting boards and of course problems with pet pee. We have experienced a situation where a wall had been so badly urinated on it had to be re-plastered.

“Properties with gardens are ideal for pets, but not necessarily the owner. Pets can be territorial and often do their business in the same spot, but that can lead to patchy grass which isn’t quick to fix.

“More than anything we want you to enjoy your stay, but ultimately it is someone else’s property, so it needs leaving in a good state.”


The Cost

Any damage your pet incurs can soon leave you feeling as sick as a dog once the bill comes through.

Louise explains: “The biggest cost can be repairs to carpets and flooring, because they are so easy to tear with claws or ruin with urine and spills. Bills can come in anything from cleaning to replacing. Carpet cleaning can be anything from £60 upwards alone, depending on the size of the room.”

Tenants in apartment blocks should be extra careful.

Louise added: “Be especially careful when it comes to apartment blocks. A tenant has a contract with the landlord, but as mentioned above the landlord has a contract with a third party company who owns and managed the apartment block. And because there are communal areas, if a pet damages those it can be difficult for them to work out just which one did it – so they often don’t allow animals to avoid the stress all together. Block management have the power to charge and even evict you through breach of tenancy. So make sure you know your rights when you move in.”


For more help and advice, don't hesitate to contact us either on 0845 838 2890 or at Ask about our referral scheme too, which could see you at least £200 better off...

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