As a team of animal lovers, we know from experience how difficult it can be to find a place that both you and your pet can call home. Though pet ownership is increasingly popular and the benefits to our wellbeing that animals offer are widely understood, there are still frustratingly few pet-friendly properties available on the lettings market. Recent government figures indicate that only 7% of properties available to let are advertised as ‘pets considered'. This means that pet owners must navigate a fiercely competitive market when searching for a new home.
To help out our fellow animal enthusiasts with their property needs, we’ve put together some tips to help you gain an edge on the competition when your embark on your mission to find the purrfect place* for you and your pet.
Start looking early
With far fewer options available on the market for renters with pets, if you’re hoping to relocate with your furry friend in tow you will need to start your search much earlier than your target move compared with the average mover. It will inevitably take you far longer to find suitable accommodation and, where pet-friendly accommodation is available, there will be a far greater number of enquiries per property as animal lovers compete for this scarce resource. Unfortunately, that means the occasional disappointment is highly likely as great properties are snapped up before you can offer. By starting early, you give yourself plenty of time to search for the perfect place and overcome any hiccups along the way before you need to vacate your current property.
Be flexible on location
In order to give yourself the best possible chance of finding a suitable property for your and your animal companion it’s worth being flexible on location. As such a small number of landlords are open to considering pets in their properties, if you restrict your search to a single neighbourhood you are unlikely to find many options - and fewer still that you would meet your specific needs.
By looking into neighbourhoods you hadn’t previously considered, you are more likely to find a pet-friendly home without having to compromise on any of your own property wishlist. Your number one priority is obviously securing residence for both you and your pet, but if you really want a roof terrace you should go after it!
With remote working practices being widely adopted across the city as a result of the pandemic, renters have more freedom to shop around in different locations without having to prioritise the impact on their commute. If you are working from home for the foreseeable future then now is a great time to benefit from the additional flexibility and expand your search radius.
Understand your leverage but be prepared to pay a premium
Despite much conventional wisdom to the contrary, pet owners are often model tenants. As it is so much more difficult to find pet-friendly property, renters with pets usually stay for longer and take exceptionally good care of the place to ensure that they receive a good reference. You can lean in to these advantages when liaising with the lettings service and landlord.
If you have a good relationship with your current landlord, ask them ahead of time if they would be willing to vouch for you with a new prospective landlord to help get your offer across the finish line. To make your offer even more attractive you can offer a longer fixed term and to entice the landlord into accepting you and your pet.
Unfortunately, you will almost certainly pay a premium for a pet-friendly property. There are three key reasons for this:
- As we have established, demand far outstrips supply. The laws of market economics apply: if a resource is scarce then the price will be high.
- Pets cause significant wear and tear (i.e the deterioration in the property’s condition as a result of normal everyday use). This means that landlords incur greater maintenance costs at the end of the tenancy to make the property attractive to subsequent renters than they would otherwise.
- The Tenant Fee Act introduced last year introduced a cap on tenancy deposits of 5 or 6 weeks rent (depending on whether the total annual rent exceeds £50k). While this legislation has been very effective at eliminating unfair fees and reducing costs for renters, pet owners find themselves penalised as an unintended consequence. The risk of property damage is inevitably greater where pets are welcomed and so landlords are more likely to need to arrange repair works at the end of the tenancy. Prior to the Tenant Fee Act, the landlord and renter could negotiate a larger deposit to indemnify the landlord against the additional risk of damages. As this is no longer an option, renters assume the cost in the form of higher rents.
You can use the length of your proposed tenancy (including break clauses) and bring your move-in date forward as negotiating levers to make your offer more enticing and reduce your pet premium, but you will probably need to pay higher rent and should therefore budget accordingly.
Introduce your pet to the landlord
If you have fallen in love with a property but the landlord still has reservations, ask the lettings provider or the landlord to arrange a meet and greet. The surest way to settle nerves is to let the landlord see firsthand how lovable and well behaved your pet is!
In addition to concerns about the potential cost of damages, many landlords worry that an ill-tempered animal prone to loudly vocalising its discontent at unsociable hours will upset and alienate the neighbours. If they meet all prospective renters, human and non-human alike, this can be very reassuring and give them the confidence to proceed with a tenancy.
Get a reference for your pet and up-to-date vet records
Ask your current landlord for a written character reference for your pet. It will help your case significantly if the prospective landlord can see positive testimony from someone similar to them. You should also demonstrate responsible pet ownership by collating all of the records you have from your vet to confirm that your pet has up-to-date vaccinations and preventative flea and worm treatments.
The Lets with Pets scheme (run by the Dog’s Trust) recommend producing a detailed pet CV to win over the landlord. Not only are pet CVs enormously charming, they also provide an opportunity for you to let the landlord know about your pet’s behaviour, personality, and any relevant obedience training they might have.
Make sure the tenancy agreement includes written permission for your pet
Once you have had an offer accepted on a property, to prevent issues arising in future you should request that a clause be added to your contract that overwrites any ‘No Pets’ provisions and confirms that the landlord consents to your pet living at the property. While it’s highly unlikely you will run into any issues down the line if the landlord grants permission for you to keep a pet, you should ensure that you have this in writing for the security of both you and your pets.
With demand for pets booming after lockdown, more and more landlords should start to see value in opening their homes to renters of all species. At Home Made, we already have an extensive selection of pet-friendly properties available across the city! Visit our renter page to view our listings or give us a call on 0207 846 0122 and tell us what you’re looking for - we’re happy to help.
*We’re sorry - all writers swear an oath to the content council that obliges them to include at least one piece of animal-based wordplay in any article featuring pets.