Politics, pets and lets

Posted: 26th Jul 2018

How often have you considered adding “no pets” in your advertisement for an upcoming tenancy in a let property you own?

You are probably worried about the extra damage or wear and tear that might be caused if your tenants own a pet or pets. Or, the extra cleaning required (think: fleas) when a pet owning tenant moves out. So, you insist that your tenants are not allowed to keep pets.

Nevertheless, you might also want to give some thought to the extent to which you may be excluding a large section of potential tenants by denying the keeping of pets.

Tenants with pets

An article in Landlord Today on the 23rd of May 2018 estimated that there are approximately nine million dogs in the UK and eight million cats – not to mention the enormous range of other creatures which people keep as pets.

The chances are high, therefore, that at least some of your potential tenants are going to be pet owners – and if you want to include them in your target market, there is little point denying them the right to keep their pet.

Indeed, the same article ran a survey of the different attitudes taken by buy to let landlords in various London boroughs. This found that landlords in Kensington and Chelsea seemed to be the most welcoming of pet-owning tenants, followed by Lambeth, Lewisham, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Boroughs such as Barking, Bexley, the City of London, Dagenham, and Sutton, on the other hand, attracted those landlords most antipathetic towards pets.

How many tenants want to keep pets?

You might be surprised by the number of tenants who want the right to be able to keep a pet.

Data gathered by us at Cover4LetProperty and published on the 23rd of April 2018 revealed that almost one in every three tenants surveyed (32% of them) put the right to keep a pet as a significant factor when choosing a tenancy.

These are the potential tenants you stand to lose, therefore, if you adopt a “no pets” policy.

It’s political

No doubt with an eye on the votes of the UK’s nine million dog owners and eight million cat owners, the Labour party this year announced that, if elected, it would introduce legislation giving tenants the right to keep a pet in any accommodation they rented.

When the policy was announced, the Independent newspaper on the 14th of February 2018, decried it as “ridiculous”.

Instead of seeking to resolve issues between landlords and tenants over the right to keep pets, any prospective government would do better to concentrate its policies on ensuring the provision of affordable let properties, which are well-built and maintained and offer secure tenancy contracts, argued the newspaper.

At the time of writing it remains unclear quite how legislation on the keeping of pets would promote better relations between landlords and tenants. Rather, it seems to be an issue more effectively addressed by market forces, as landlords learn to appreciate the benefits of giving tenants what they apparently want – the ability to keep pets.