Woof justice for tenants with pets

by Rachel Crook

They say a dog is a man's best friend, but it would seem the same is not true for landlords. While Britain may be a nation of animal lovers, it appears that this affection does not extend to those who let out homes.

Research by the Dogs Trust recently revealed the reality of the problem. A poll of pet owners found that 75 per cent of them found it hard to get rented accommodation, while 54 per cent were unable to find any at all.

Given that private renting has been on the rise while a large part of the population still own pets, this is a statistic that could cause major problems to a lot of tenants.

Of course, for landlords it may be tempting to consider those with pets to be a potential problem. Animals may damage a house or garden. Many will moult. They could cause problems in a shared house where others may not like the animal or have an allergy.

Yet at the same time, many believe that arguments against letting to pet owners are somewhat specious. Such a view is held by campaign group Lets with Pets, which is seeking to change the approach of landlords. Manager Claire Kivlehan suggested this may already be happening, due to the wider market conditions.

She stated: "I think rep that in the past, when the property market was in a more positive state in terms of lettings, they felt that they didn't need to go out of their way to look at pet owners or consider them."

This, she added, meant landlords thinking that they could concentrate on "responsible" people, which in their view did not include pet owners.

Hitting out at this stereotype, Ms Kivlehan remarked: "It's actually the contrary, because people that have pets tend to be very responsible, they are looking after a pet and they really want to find a property and stay in it for longer because they don't want to move on again and go through the same experience. We are trying to get away from this idea that pets cause problems."

Of course, it could be that landlords may indeed wish to reconsider the issue of letting to people with pets. Those who have concerns over how this may affect contracts or any other legal issue can of course download a tenancy agreement to find out how to address such issues.

With a larger supply of residential property, many landlords could find at present that there is a shortage of tenants. Offering a hitherto excluded group new opportunities could help serve a niche market in which demand has clearly - on the basis of the Dogs Trust survey - not been met.

Moreover, if Ms Kivlehan is correct, those renting out properties to those with four-legged friends may find they enjoy the fruits of long-term rental occupation entirely because others fail to recognise this.

So it could just be that while some landlords fear letting pets in, the bark of such a prospect is very much worse than its bite.

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Published on: June 18, 2009

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