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Renting Property as a Pet Owner

 Mon 24 Apr 2017 by Judy

Finding a suitable rental property for you and your family can be a difficult and stressful experience and if you own a cat or dog your options, become even more limited with so many landlords refusing to accept pets in rental properties. We look at how to find a property to rent when you are a pet owner.

Top tips for finding a rental property if you are a pet owner

  • Don’t leave your house hunting until the last minute – give yourself plenty of time to find a pet-friendly property and begin searching at least 6-8 weeks before you need to move out of your current home.
  • Be as flexible as possible – The more restrictive your search criteria are, the more difficult it will be for you to find a pet-friendly property. Try to be flexible on location and property type as this will increase your chances of finding somewhere for you and your pet to live.
  • Write a CV for your pet – provide your prospective landlord with as much information about your pet as you can. Include contact details for your veterinary practice and for someone who can care for your pet in case of an emergency. You could also include details of your pet’s neutering, microchipping, insurance(which will include public liability in the case of dogs), last vaccinations and any flea and worming treatments they have received. Mention any training that your dog has had. Dogs Trust has examples of references and CV’s. See their site, reference at the foot of the page.
  • Get a reference for your pet – by providing your landlord with a reference from your previous landlord you can show that your pet is both well behaved and capable of living in rented accommodation without causing problems or damage. This will also demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner. If you have not rented accommodation with your pet before, you could ask your vet to write your reference. Although they will not be able to vouch for you and your pet as tenants, they can reassure prospective landlords that you are a responsible pet owner. You should ask your vet to state in their reference that: your pets are well behaved, you are a responsible pet owner, you provide routine preventive health care, such as vaccinations and flea treatments for your pets and that you seek veterinary treatment for your pets when needed.
  • Introduce your pet to your landlord – meeting your pet in advance may put your landlord’s mind at ease. You could invite your landlord to your current home so that they can see that your pet has caused no problems there. This is particularly important for dogs as it’s an opportunity to show that your dog is calm and well behaved.
  • Offer to pay a higher deposit – many landlords are concerned about pets causing damage to their property or furnishings. By offering to pay a higher deposit, you will reassure the landlord that you will cover any damage that your pet may cause.
  • Offer to have the property professionally cleaned – landlords often worry that accepting pets will lead to flea infestations, excess pet hair and dirty carpets and soft furnishings. To put your landlord’s mind at ease you might consider offering to pay for the property to be professionally cleaned when you move out. Some landlords and letting agents may ask for a non-refundable payment in advance to cover the cost of cleaning.
  • Be honest, do not sneak your pet in without permission – it’s never advisable to keep a pet in a property without the landlord’s consent. This will only lead to problems in the future and could result in the termination of your tenancy. It’s possible that keeping pets in the property may even violate the landlord’s own leasehold agreement. It’s advisable to always be honest about your pets from the start.
  • Get written permission – if your landlord has given you permission to keep a pet in your property, make sure you get it in writing. You should ask for a clause to be added to your tenancy agreement to cover the keeping of pets and make sure that any ‘No Pets’ clauses are removed. This will prevent problems from arising in future.

Be a good tenant once you are in the property with your pet:

Fouling

Fouling by dogs and cats is one of the main causes of problems with both landlords and neighbours so it’s important that your pets are toilet trained and that you always clean up after them.

If your dog has not been toilet trained, you will need to train him as soon as possible and preferably before you enter the new property.

Dogs will generally toilet in the garden (check you are allowed first) or during their daily walks. Dog owners are responsible by law for cleaning up after their dog in public and can be fined for not doing so. You should also ensure that you pick up your dog’s mess from any communal areas.

Cat fouling is not covered by any law but you should provide your cat with a litter tray indoors to discourage it from fouling in neighbours’ gardens. This can be a real issue between neighbours, so take it seriously.

Noise

If any of your pets are causing a nuisance to your neighbours through excessive noise, you will need to investigate the cause of the problem. This is most likely to happen with barking dogs. Dogs bark for many different reasons, including excitement, fear, boredom, frustration, because they are guarding the home or because they cannot cope with being left alone. If you are unable to solve the problem on your own, you should contact a veterinary surgeon, dog behaviourist or animal welfare organisation for advice. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a local authority can serve dog owners with an abatement notice if their dog is considered a statutory nuisance by barking consistently and excessively. An abatement notice will require the ceasing or restriction of the nuisance. Failure to comply with an abatement notice can result in a fine of up to £5000.

Damage to property

Damage caused to properties and furnishings is one of the top reasons why landlords will not accept pets in their properties. Insurance policies, such as contents insurance, will not cover any damage caused by pets, so it’s important that you do everything you can to prevent it from happening.

Small pets such as hamsters, gerbils and rabbits can cause a lot of damage as they have sharp teeth and enjoying gnawing. If you let your small pets out of their cages to exercise, you should ensure that they are supervised at all times. This is particularly important with wires and cables as they can gnaw through them and cause damage both to the property and to themselves.

Cats claw as part of their natural behaviour so you should always provide them with a scratching post and toys to occupy them while they are indoors. This should also prevent them from clawing at the carpets and furniture.

Also make sure that your cat does not claw any communal woodwork such as door or stair posts, benches in communal gardens etc.

Dogs who are bored or left at home for long periods of time are more likely to cause damage to property and furnishings. Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than 4 hours at a time. If you do need to leave your dog at home, you should ensure that you leave plenty of toys, such as food puzzle toys, to occupy them.

Neglect

All pet owners are responsible for their pet’s health and wellbeing and have a ‘duty of care’ to provide them with adequate food and water, exercise, a suitable place to live and access to veterinary treatment. If you do not provide for your pet’s needs or if you abandon or neglect any animal in your care, you may be reported to the RSPCA and prosecuted.

If you are going away and you will be leaving your pet behind, you must ensure that someone will be able to care for him until you return. Usually this would mean taking your pet to a friend or family member or arranging for him to go to a kennel or cattery. In some circumstances you may be able to arrange for someone to come into your home to look after your pet.


Article by: The Pet Owners Association – reproduced with the kind permission of Dogs Trust from their Lets with Pets booklet, ‘Renting With Pets’


Dogs Trust’s Lets with Pets campaign aims to help pet owners find privately rented accommodation with their pets. We have put together advice for pet owners on how to find pet-friendly accommodation as well as information for landlords and letting agents on managing properties with pets.