The demand for pet-friendly rental properties is on the increase, with one London estate agent, W.A. Ellis recently reporting a 75% rise in tenants’ pet licenses over the past year, which goes hand in hand with an increase in dog ownership and the rising private rental sector.
Whilst some landlords are happy to pet license addendums on their tenancy agreements, the fact remains – pets can cause very costly damage to property. Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) comments: “The rise in the number of tenants with pets is due to several factors. Firstly, an increase in dog ownership; Secondly, the UK’s relaxed quarantine laws which came into effect early last year; and thirdly, some dog breeds have become a fashion accessory, especially the ‘handbag’ breeds like the Chihuahua.
“Research shows that 1 in 3 pet owners struggle to find the right home, and that it can take anything from two months to a year for them to find appropriate accommodation. As a result, some tenants may take on a property without disclosing to the landlord that they have a pet. They will also work hard to hide any signs of pets in advance of a visit from a landlord or agent.
“A recent inspection caused a little concern when the clerk opened a bedroom door to find a free iguana complete with sawn off tree trunk for it to sit on. Other odd finds in properties with pet restrictions have included snakes, a parrot and a house rabbit.
“Cats seem to cause the most problem in a property for a number of reasons. They love sharpening their claws on every surface. We have seen deep claw marks and pulls all around the base of sofas with back seams ripped open; cat hairs matted under seat cushions, hairs on curtains and other furnishings. Cats can also leave hidden problems when tenants have moved out. It is very common for the next tenants to discover a serious flea problem through the property as cat fleas and their eggs can lay dormant for several weeks in carpets and crevices only to reappear when the next warm body – usually a human being – comes along.
“Landlords are at risk of costly damage to property caused by pets such as chewed doors, frames and furniture; soiled and pulled carpets and rugs; scratched surfaces; and damage to lawns, plants and gardens. My advice to landlords and agents is to be vigilant about checking the inside and outside of properties for pet damage.”
Below are some guidelines that AIIC has put together to help agents and landlords spot pet damage:
- Regular visits to the property – ensure you make regular visits to the property, so that you can check for damage on both the inside and the outside
- Pet Hair/Bird Feathers – check under the sofa cushions (as tenants often forget to vacuum here); linings of curtains, pelmets, curtain tops
- Pet stains – check under mats, tables, beds for pet stains
- Scratches – check furniture, doors and frames, kitchen cupboards for claw scratches
- Carpets – Look out for thread pulls and fluffing on carpets and rugs – especially in door ways and stair treads.
- Cables – check for damage from chewing – a favourite of pet rabbits and hamsters.
- Patches on the lawn – yellowing of the grass is often the sign of a cat or dog
For further information, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk.