A leading digital lettings platform used by agents has acquired PetsScore, the pet referencing company that lets owners build up a profile for their pet to show landlords and letting agents.

The Lettings Hub plans to launch a range of pet-let products to tenants, landlords and letting agents this year, all integrated within BOX, its tenancy progression platform.

The supplier of digital products and services says that as 3.2 million households have bought a pet since the start of the pandemic – with 59% of new owners aged 16-34 years old – it’s inevitable that this will impact the rental market.

PetsScore, which only officially launched last September, lets tenants register their pets including information about microchip, breed/size/weight, vaccinations, pet insurance, medical treatment, training, and landlord references.

The Lettings Hub CEO Heidi Shackell (pictured) explains that if, as expected, the Renters Reform Bill scraps section 21 notices, landlords have little protection against a tenant moving in a pet without permission during their tenancy.

She says: “We believe a significant section of the market are looking towards newer solutions, focused on better due diligence and increased protection for landlords, whilst providing tenants with a valuable tool to overcome objections and encourage more long-term lets.”

petscore

Natasha Homer-Earley, a landlord and tech professional who set up PetsScore last year, adds that there is a chasm between the availability of pet-friendly rental properties and the overwhelming demand for them. “Over the coming months and years, there will be more opportunities to bring together fintech, proptech and data to improve the matching process between landlords, tenants, and pets,” she says.

Tenants with pets are still a hot topic in the PRS, after the government altered its voluntary model AST contract to require tenants to take pets unless they have good reason not to, while campaigning group AdvoCATS continues to receive cross-party support in its bid to alter the Tenant Fees Act to enable pet deposits to be legal.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I just don’t “get it”

    I just made up a fictitious account on the website – everything from the google downloaded doggy pic, his name, 1-digit microchip number, vaccinations, hair shedding, size, vets, blah blah blah was all just made up – absolutely ZERO checks on what was entered.

    I can then share that made up info with a potential landlord – who can then pay a one-off £10 or a monthly subscription from £3/month to read it (you get a few free goes at the start).

    The pet owner has the option of writing to a previous landlord(s) for a “pet reference” and to share that with a prospective landlord (who is paying that fee to the website remember).

    So I did that too – I sent myself the “reference request” and completed it with a made-up NRLA membership number. Again, no checks.

    My totally made-up, unverified “pet” was awarded a score of 295 indicating a low risk – really, fancy that.

    Guess what – if a pet owner approached me (and I wanted to accept pets) – I would just contact the previous Landlord myself and save a few ££ along the way.

    The internet is wonderful and we have some amazing software out there – but we have so much dross too.

  2. Isn’t it funny how the whole industry thinks this is a good idea – except LLs, who say No Pets!

    Until the market is flooded with properties that LLs can’t rent out, pet owners are going to be at the bottom of the list for most LL, me included. This is not just about damage and money, but also about the quality of life of a pet left alone all day while the owners are out at work. Just ask the animal shelters overwhelmed by abandoned pets now the home workers have gone back to the office whether they think pets in rentals are a good idea!

  3. Thanks for the comments, it’s always interesting to see the spectrum of views on this subject which we know provokes debate in the market. We understand that many landlords do not like the idea of letting to a tenant with pets, for all of the reasons that have been understandably mentioned by the commenters above. For those that do consider pets however, the solutions we are developing aim to give them greater protection. We want to provide landlords with more information on the pets they are accepting into their properties, as well as offering insurance products that will help to rectify any mishaps should they happen. Now that we have acquired PetsScore we’ll be looking at what refinements we may need to make to their process as part of our work to ensure it provides max protection for landlords. Currently landlords have a choice about whether to accept pets or not, but the Government plans to reintroduce its “pets in lets” bill later this year which, if passed, will leave landlords legally unable to refuse a reasonable request to have a pet. We are building a proposition now that will at least give landlords some reasonable protections that are fair to both parties in anticipation of this legislative change.

    • With respect, perhaps shout about it once it works and not while its a completely unchecked, unworkable mess.

      I will still be contacting previous LLs myself rather than leave it for a potential tenant to make up what they want me to hear.

      And, let’s be honest, any LL with half a brain can get round the “tenant with pet” application.

      We may struggle if a tenant later gets a pet, but your system is no use there either.

  4. To the Lettings Hub – I know you want to make it easier to get potential tenants into rental property and make it easier to do so and it must be quite difficult to find enough landlords to accept pets but this so called pet referencing system is useless – What potential tenant is going to give their pet a bad reference. This is a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas! Get real. If you want to provide ‘rentals for pets’, why don’t you invest in your own rental stock and take all the pets you want and good luck to you but leave the rest of us LLs alone and stock being a parasite off decent landlords.

  5. “as well as offering insurance products” – another scheme to make money which, ultimately, will be passed on to the tenant. All these so-called tenant advocates and other vested interests sticking their noses in are no friend of the tenant. All this interference, from fee bans to tax hikes to the proposed banning of section 21, all just ends up increasing rents and reducing properties available to let. With over 85% of tenants being happy with their properties, why not just leave us alone. It’s not broken and the only ones who say it is are those with a politically motivated left-wing agenda.

  6. Some very good posts here. I have tenants who get pets with and without asking. Generally I allow them on the basis that the tenant has to pay for any damage. I appreciate that this won’t always happen, but the flip side is that I do find that the tenants are very grateful and tend to see the property more as their home and stay longer. However, if tenants do take a pet without your blessing, what can you do about it? Section 21 is your only sure option. What happens if/when they take it away? I don’t think a judge would uphold S8 eviction on a pet clause, and, even if they did, would it be worth the hassle? This is another good reason why S21 should be retained – landlords should have the right to decide whether to rent out their property, to whom, and under what conditions.

  7. Most long term tenants will get a pet as they take ownership of the property.
    It’s part of a growing family life
    I’ve had multi tenants over ten years with pets and growing families they have never asked for new carpets etc. They replace themselves
    I believe some landlords need to trust the tenant a bit more. Maybe it’s because I do not use agents and use that old fashioned thing called communication. This pet issue is mostly a armchair landlord argument I believe.

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