Summary: If you’re looking to rent and have a pet, existing rented stock and landlord’s restrictions may have meant that you struggled to find a suitable property. Now, however, the rental sector and more particularly, the build to rent sector, are moving towards a ‘pet friendly’ attitude to letting. This blog explores the current trends in this sector and the implications for tenancies.

How significant a part of the rental market are tenants with pets?

It’s estimated that 45% of households in the UK own a pet and approximately 25% of households are expected to be privately renting by 2021. Therefore, it’s understandable that landlords are now reconsidering their views on letting to pet owners and what benefits they can provide which sets them apart from their competitors. Letting to pet owners provides a competitive edge and is another way for landlords to attract long-term tenants. A recognition of this new approach, is the ‘Lets with Pets’ scheme created by the Dogs Trust. The website provides a handy one stop shop for tenants, agents and landlords with advice on letting properties to pet owners.

What are build to rent operators providing?

In the United States, having a pet and renting a property is not new. Multifamily housing is very accommodating of pets and pet facilities are seen as standard. Additional charges for tenants with pets are common, with strict management rules regarding pet behaviour. However the payoff is not only being able to rent with a pet, but often multifamily housing developments include specialist pet-friendly facilities, including pet spas and indoor dog walking areas.

The UK is catching up with the US and there are now developments providing dedicated pet-friendly floors, with others providing ‘pet stations’ and bespoke facilities for grooming and the like. Additional pet facilities are usually charged to tenants by way of an additional charge on top of rent, as would be the case with storage facilities or a parking space.

Implications of accepting pets?

If Landlords do permit tenants with pets, what are the practical and legal implications?

  • Adverts – adverts for lettings should make clear whether pets are permitted.
  • Deposits – landlords may wish to charge a higher deposit for lettings to pet owners to cover any additional damage by claws.
  • Tenancies - The British Property Federation’s template Assured Shorthold Tenancy (commonly seen as the industry standard tenancy agreement), contains the usual covenant not to keep any pets without obtaining the managing agent’s permission in writing.

If pets are permitted, Landlords should consider including the following in their tenancies:

  • an express acknowledgement of the type of pets which are permitted;
  • specific covenants or guidelines for pet behaviour and where pets are permitted within a building and/or development; and
  • details of any additional charges payable.

Conclusion

Whilst the rental market has traditionally been difficult for pet owners looking to rent, this is changing and particularly in the build to rent sector. The nature of build to rent developments means that these landlords can be more flexible and provide bespoke facilities to pet owning tenants. This in turn should lead to an enhanced commercial return with longer term tenants. It will be interesting to see how this part of the sector progresses and whether providing pet facilities will be seen as more commonplace when considering ‘placemaking’. Practically, if Landlords are letting to pet owners, they should consider what changes should be made to their tenancies and processes to accommodate these lettings.