Lets for Pets:

The introduction of the tenant fees ban has also introduced uncertainties for landlords and tenants around the issue of letting with pets.                                                                                 

Letting to families or individuals with pets has always been a controversial issue for both landlords and tenants. Some landlords would prefer not to let to tenants with pets full-stop, but an outright ban on pets is illegal.

However, a landlord has the right to refuse pets when they would be deemed unsuitable for the accommodation or the lifestyle of the tenants. For instance, a dog being left unattended in a flat for long periods may interfere unreasonably with neighbours’ lives.

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Depending on the pet, wear and tear may be increased considerably, and it’s difficult to assess in advance if this will be the case. A cat can cause scratching to furniture and horrendous smells when urinating on carpets, which would necessitate full replacements. Replacement costs can be considerable and something which can become a big issue between landlord and tenant.

For these reasons, landlords have traditionally accepted increased deposits to cover for increased risks and they have separate pet agreements which contractually bind the owners, not only to pay for any additional damage caused and cleaning costs, but also to ensure that animals are properly looked after, including proper exercise, all injections, worming, de-fleaing etc.

The fees ban puts a cap on deposits which prevents landlords taking an additional amount for pets, and also bans cleaning fees, which leaves the only legal option of charging an additional amount of rent – in effect a “pet rent” – for the increased risk.

The Guardian newspaper has identified what it says is an attempt to “recoup losses from a ban on unfair letting fees,” by landlords charging excessive “pet rents” of hundreds of pounds a year for the thousands of tenants who own a cat or a dog.

The Guardian says the “new practice means tenants with animals are being charged up to £50 a month additional rent for a single pet, adding considerably to the cost of housing at a time when more and more families are priced out of buying and rely on rented homes.”

The newspaper cites one landlord from Bicester in Oxfordshire asking £40 per pet per month on top of the £995 pcm rent, meaning that (in theory) a family with a dog and two cats would face paying and additional £1,400 per annum. Several other landlords are said to be seeking “pet rent” for “clawed” pets only.

One tenant is cited by The Guardian as saying it is ridiculous for landlords / agents to ask for pet references, when in fact the DogsTrust recommends this practice – see http://www.letswithpets.org.uk/find-a-pet-friendly-property/top-ten-tips

Letting agents are saying that the “pet rent” issue is one that has emerged since June when the fees ban came in and one which it seems is likely to be a cause of contention between landlords and tenants in the future. One of the unintended consequences of introducing new legislation perhaps, and an issue which may need to be addressed in the legislation?

David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, has commented that the practice of charging pet rents is the only legal way for landlords to cover the potential cost of damage by pets.

“This practice is a direct result of capping deposits under the tenant fees ban, as this problem didn’t exist before June 1.

“There’s been a long-standing campaign from the Dogs Trust, called Lets with Pets, which encouraged landlords and letting agents to take a couple of weeks extra deposit to cover the cost of a pet.

“But this practice is now unlawful under the ban and landlords are charging additional rent as it’s the only lawful avenue to mitigate the risk of damage from pets.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll be charging for pets. Every tenant’s pet has caused damage from birds chewing off the wallpaper, pooping everywhere and the seeds going mouldy behind units, a large fishtank that burst all over the laminate flooring, cats scratching the wallpaper off and damaging the plaster, and dogs that poo and pee everywhere and owners that didn’t clean any of it up off the lawn leaving me to clear up 6 months of excrement from the lawn. All of the repairs were costly – very costly.

  2. My tenant’s dog chewed the kitchen cabinet doors! The tenant is still resident in the property but I will face a huge bill when they vacate. I know you can pursue the costs in court but it is time consuming and sometimes you just want to get rid of the tenant quickly and without and fuss!
    Again the Government have interfered with areas they know little about and in due course they will introduce more legislation preventing higher rents for pet owners. What ever next?!

  3. It has just cost me £2,600 to replaced every carpet in the house because of the stench of cat pee. That comes on top of replacing the kitchen worktop (the little skank did not use a chopping board) and some of the units. Plus she left owing £1200 in rent. Yet we are constantly told the poor tenants do not have enough protection My arse they don’t. What good is a months rent when faced with them sort of costs. We need the ability for the court to attach a cost to their wages or benefits for the damage they leave behind.

  4. Absolutely. Seems to me that all legislation comes down on the side of the tenant, who lets face it can’t even be made to clean a property on exit now which is absolutely ridiculous! I will either just disregard applicants with pets in favour of those without (because we are not even legally allowed a say in whether we want pets in something WE have invested a lot of money in – note that’s WE, not the tenant!), or alternatively will definitely be seeking a higher rental payment to compensate for any prospective damage. Why should we end up out of pocket? Failing that if they keep on beating small private landlords with these legislative sticks, we will just sell up and get out of the rental sector altogether as to be quite frank it’s becoming more hassle than it’s worth!

  5. I currently have Tennant’s without pets but all the exterior pvc double glazed doors have been ruined by a previous Tennant’s dog the glass is scratched, the plastic gouged from its claws. I don’t want Tennant’s with pets again and will certainly charge a large additional rent for any pet having seen the damage that can occur.

  6. I appreciate that repairs after pets can be very costly, but as a Tennant with 2 very well trained, outdoor cats for whom I have purchased a frickin cat scratching Castle so they don’t touch my nice furniture or anything else, that have been in my current property for over 18 months & haven’t damaged a damn thing, are vaccinated & flead/wormed every month without fail, and are also under constant supervision because I work from home…. Hearing that a landlord can now profit as much £1200 a year just because I have cats is disgusting! I am currently looking for a new long term property where I would hope to stay at least 5 years, that means that in the lifetime of my tenancy, my landlord will have profited by £6200 because I have cats that have never damaged a bloody thing, DISGUSTING. You all should be ashamed of yourselves!

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