The issue of landlord and pets is an age old problem. Making your property available for pets opens up your property to a wider market, but at the same time risks reducing the value of your property and alienating current and potential tenants. Dogs are the most common pets in the UK, but roughly 78% of pet owners have experienced difficulty finding rental accommodation which accepts pets, and 54% of pet owners are never able to find suitable property that accepts pets. Even when pet owners do find suitable rental property they are put off by the two-thirds increase in deposit. This is a real issue for the rental market.
Allowing dogs to live in their rental properties often feels like an additional nuisance for landlords; there is no guarantee that the tenant will clean up after their pet, flooring often has to be replaced and a poop problem can affect the whole community pitting tenant neighbour against tenant neighbour. In a worst case scenario landlords can be issued with an ASBO by the Environmental Health for a tenant’s dog poop. It is not surprising that Landlords look at these issues and take the easy option – banning pets.
Increasingly, however landlords are trying to control pet ownership to allow them to benefit from this large market segment. They are turning to dog DNA testing to make tenants responsible for their dog’s poop. Dog DNA testing uses genetic analysis to identify those dogs responsible for uncollected waste with start up costs as little as £30-£40 per resident dog. Here is how it works: tenants swab the inside of their dogs’ mouth and provide the landlord with the sample DNA. This information is then put on a DNA register. When the landlord or a neighbouring tenant finds any uncollected poop, the landlord can send the sample away where the identity of the offending dog will be discovered.
A dog DNA solution drives positive behavioural change as it makes tenants responsible for their dogs’ waste, it removes the denial from the tenant about whose dog left the poop and it helps avoid the neighbour vs. neighbour accusations. When a Dog DNA programme is in place, there are few instances of dog fouling. Dog DNA schemes have already experienced success in America where across the country more than 1,750 apartment properties already use them, with three to six further properties being added each day. In Eastern Spain, a dog DNA database was recently launched where owners will face a €200 fine for allowing their dogs to foul the pavements. Closer to home, a pilot scheme conducted in collaboration with Barking and Dagenham showed a 50% reduction in fouling in public spaces. Due to the success of the pilot the Council has recently announced that all their social housing tenants will now be required to have their dog DNA registered as part of their new pet policy.
The pet owner rental market is a problem that’s not going to go away any time soon, with ‘millennial’ pet ownership levels at 78%. Generation Rent is going to need somewhere to live with their pets. Dog poo is an ugly problem, but DNA testing has revealed itself to be a tidy answer.
Gary Downie is Managing Director at Streetkleen.
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) November 18, 2016