Pet friendly rentals: can they increase your buy-to-let income?

Recent research shows that tenants are willing to pay hundreds of pounds extra to rent a pet-friendly place to live, so should you allow pets in your rental property?

In the UK it’s raining cats and dogs

The country is full of pet lovers, with around 16 million dogs and cats living in British homes, not to mention the rabbits, fish, birds, hamsters and other critters that share our space.

Weroom.com recently released research showing that flatsharers are willing to pay £484 more in rent per year for a home where they can take their dog, which suggests landlords could be missing out on extra cash by banning furry friends.

Plus, just because you don’t allow pets doesn’t mean your tenants don’t have them. OnePulse research last year suggested that around 19 per cent of the country’s renters are secretly keeping pets.

Pet-friendly rentals

But is it a good idea to let your tenants have pets? Many landlords worry about the possible property damage, the lingering smell of a canine companion, and the potential nuisance to neighbours if the animal is noisy or aggressive.

Still, there are good sides to renting to pet owners too. Since so many landlords ban pets, animal charity Dogs Trust has set up the Lets with Pets website, which provides information and guidance for pet owners, landlords and letting agents.

To help you make a decision on whether or not to allow pets, we’ve summarised some of the pros and cons.

Reasons to allow pets in your rental property

  • As we’ve said, tenants are often willing to pay more for pet-friendly properties, so you may be able to charge higher rent.
  • Since so many people own pets, marketing your property as pet-friendly opens it to a much bigger pool of potential tenants.
  • Being openly pet-friendly means that your tenants don’t need to hide their pet from you, so you can have open conversations and put rules in place.
  • Dogs can provide excellent security, so your property may have less chance of being burgled.
  • Being understanding about your tenant’s pet could foster a better relationship with them, and mean that they’re keen to stay longer and keep the property in good condition.

Reasons not to allow pets in your rental property

  • Pets can be destructive, with expensive damage to flooring and furnishings a possibility.
  • Even well-behaved animals can increase the amount of wear-and-tear, so post-tenancy cleaning bills may be higher.
  • Dogs may annoy the neighbours if they’re noisy or badly behaved. Some dogs howl when they’re left alone, and many dogs bark when someone comes to the door.
  • Once a pet has been kept in the property, it may be difficult to rent the property to anyone with allergies in the future.
  • Animals can carry fleas and mites, which can infest a property.

Guidance for allowing pets in your rental property

If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of allowing pets and decided to go ahead, these are some of the things to think about:

  • Remember to put ‘pets considered’ in the property description and let the letting agents know, as on some websites property listings can be filtered according to whether rentals are pet-friendly.
  • You may want to specify which types of pets are permitted in the property. A large dog (or a 50 stone pig) may not be suitable for a small flat, while you may be happy with small dogs or cats.
  • You could arrange to meet the pet before you accept the tenant, to check that it’s friendly and well-behaved.
  • Adding a ‘pet clause’ to the tenancy agreement gives you the chance to set out the rules regarding pets. Go through this carefully with your tenant.
  • You may want to charge a higher deposit for tenants with pets. Remember that, as with all deposits, it will need to be protected under the deposit protection scheme.
  • You could consider charging your tenant a non-refundable ‘pet payment’ to cover the cost of professionally cleaning the property once they’ve moved out.
  • If there are pets living in the property, regular inspections may be even more important, but remember that you need to give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice.

What are your reasons for allowing or disallowing pets in your rental property? Tell us in the comments.

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