Renting property with pets
FINDING the perfect rented home can be difficult at the best of times; but for pet-owners especially, house-hunting can be an uphill struggle...
For pet-owners, the need to find a rented property where their four-legged, eight-legged, no-legged, winged or finned friend will be welcome adds an extra twist to the house-hunting process.
Not all landlords are amenable to the idea of taking on tenants with pets, fearing that they will damage furniture, fixtures and fittings, or leave flea infestations when they depart. It can pose a serious challenge to pet-owners looking to rent, especially in properties in popular urban areas. So how do you go about finding a home where your pet will be welcome?
No pets, no fair
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Since the Office of Fair Trading published a welcome set of guidelines on fair and unfair terms in rental contracts in 2001, it's no longer quite so common to come across upfront 'no pets' specifications in lettings ads.
Many reputable letting agencies have added to their contracts words to the effect that landlords will not withhold consent for a pet unless it's unreasonable.
And although many landlords still won't entertain the idea of dogs inside their properties, it at least gives you the chance to ask. The best approach is to be upfront and honest from the start.
Premium pet rate
Many lettings agents increase pet-owners' deposits from six weeks' to ten weeks' rent, in order to cover possible repair and maintenance costs post-tenancy.
And a strict 'pets' clause in their lettings contract covers every eventuality, from damaged carpets and curtains to scratched floors, and from flea infestations to territorial spraying - with no 'save wear and tear' caveat for damage or wear caused by pets, but instead a presumption of replacing new for old when necessary.
And it isn't only for dogs that renting can turn out to be a dog's life. Ground-floor flats can spark stiff competition between cat-owners, keen to be able to allow their cats in and out with ease, and it's not uncommon for cat-lovers to specify properties on the ground floor.
Cats are easier to rent to than dogs are, and then anything that's not a dog or a cat - snakes, spiders, reptiles - isn't really a problem. Anything that's not hairy and isn't going to scratch the floors or the furniture is usually fine.
Investment landlords, with less emotional investment in their property than owner-occupiers, can sometimes be more amenable to pets indoors; and some tenants have also found that money talks, higher deposits aside.
If a tenant can offer a bit of extra money to help with the costs of post-tenancy work, or say £10 more than the asking price, then the landlord's probably going to say yes.
TOP TIPS FOR TENANTS WITH PETS
1.Give yourself plenty of time to look for a property, and be prepared to move fast if you find somewhere suitable that will accept your pet.
2.House-training is a must and obedience-training, for dogs, is an added bonus. Make sure that fleas and ticks are under control, and let a prospective landlord know about all of it. The more they feel you are a conscientious pet-owner who takes their concerns seriously, the more likely they are to agree to let to you.
3.Ask if you can introduce your dog to the landlord. Once they see how well-behaved it is, even a landlord who has said 'no' to pets just for an easy life may come to reconsider.
4.Expect to pay a higher deposit - and be prepared to offer to do so, if you sense reluctance on the landlord's part.
5.Offer to remove every trace of your pet's presence when you leave, and suggest that you add a clause to the contract saying so. It's probably a good idea to specify from the start what that will involve, and could include deep cleaning of the carpets, flea treatment if necessary and deodorising.
6.If you want to put in a cat-flap, approach the landlord/agent in a way calculated to get a 'yes', by offering to sign a rider to your contract that you will put things back the way they were when you came. It might be as easy as simply replacing the bottom door panel, or replacing a pane of glass for window cat-flaps.
7.Dogs Trust, the animal welfare charity, has launched a campaign called Lets with Pets which aims to encourage more landlords to consider renting their property to pet owners. Visit the Dogs Trust Lets with Pets to find out more about their campaign and for useful information about renting a property with pets.