For the first time ever, I recently become a dog owner. With this in mind I thought about tenants who have pets and how landlords weigh up the pros and cons of allowing tenants to have pets and the difficulties associated with this but ultimately a well-behaved pet will cause few problems and result in a happy tenant and a tenant who is allowed to have a pet will likely stay in a property for longer.
With trends moving towards long-term rents, it is inevitable that tenants will want to be able to have pets, but landlords are understandably going to be hesitant to allow them to do so, even though there are clear advantages in allowing pets on the property. It can be a fine line between keeping a tenant happy and ensuring that the property they’re in is not damaged, but it can be done. It’s important to set clear expectations at the start of the tenancy when compiling the agreement, and ensuring that cleaning the property at the end of the tenancy is properly arranged.
Laws to be aware of
There are several laws that apply to pet owners in the UK, such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Animal Health and Welfare Act (Scotland) 2006 and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it is illegal for anyone to own or keep a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Fila Brasilero, unless the dog is registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs. If you believe that a tenant is keeping a dangerous dog at your property, report it to the police or the local authority as soon as possible to allow them to take the appropriate action.
Exotic pets, especially potentially dangerous ones such as snakes or spiders, are required to have a license from the local authority under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This regulates how wild animals are kept by individuals.
If you are concerned about the welfare of an animal being kept in your property, or you think that a previous tenant may have abandoned their pet, you should contact an animal welfare organisation immediately. In Wales you can report abandonment and neglect to the RSPCA.
Putting a pet clause in a tenancy agreement
Once you have decided to rent your property to a tenant with a pet, you should include a pet clause in the tenancy agreement. The clause would specify that the pet (identified by a suitable description) would be allowed on the property for the duration of the tenancy and that no further animals would be allowed unless the landlord has given consent.
You should also include a clause that covers any pet-related damage and also obliges the tenant to pay for a professional property cleaning service at the end of the tenancy so you can be sure that the property will be back to its normal state before a new tenant moves in.
If you’re concerned about the effect of a pet on the property, make sure you take a thorough inventory before the tenant moves in so you know the condition each element was in before the pet arrived.
I would always advise on requesting a double deposit or an additional deposit for a pre-existing tenancy to ensure that, should any damage attributable to the pet occur, there are the means to claim.