Should you allow pets in your rental property?

Pets in rental propertiesOver the past couple of years we have found that more and more applicants are applying with pets, or indeed requesting permission for a pet during an active tenancy. It can be a fine line between keeping a tenant happy and ensuring that the property is not damaged, but it can be done.
 
Pet Clause in Tenancy Agreement
If you have decided to rent your property to a tenant with a pet, ensure that your tenants fully understand their responsibilities. The new Private Residential Tenancy Agreement that came in place in December 2017 in Scotland has the following pet clause built in:

‘PETS - The Tenant will not keep any animals or pets in the Let Property without the prior written consent of the Landlord.  Any pet (where permitted) will be kept under supervision and control to ensure that it does not cause deterioration in the condition of the Let Property or common areas, nuisance either to neighbours or in the locality of the Let Property.’

To make this clause more specific and establish clear responsibilities you can add additional terms. These terms could specify that the pet (identified by a suitable description) would be allowed on the property for the duration of the tenancy and that no further animals would be allowed unless the landlord has given consent.

You can also include a clause that covers any pet-related damage and also obliges the tenant to pay for professional property cleaning at the end of the tenancy, so you can be sure that the property will be back to its normal state before a new tenant moves in. The cleaning should include professional carpet and upholstery cleaning for allergy purposes.
 
Keeping Records and talking to tenants
A thorough inventory should be prepared at the beginning of the tenancy to document the condition each element was in before the pet arrived.

You should also ensure that the property is inspected on a regular basis and the condition is documented including photographs and descriptions. If you have any concerns, discuss it with the tenant at the time and do not leave it until the end of the tenancy. Talk to your tenants in a kind manner (even though it might be difficult if you found a scratched sofa or stains on your carpet). Chances are that they will respond to your concerns in the same way and will be willing to take appropriate action.
 
Introducing Pet Mid-Tenancy
If a tenant requests for permission to have a pet during the tenancy, the same terms can be applied as outlined above. It is important to agree the terms in writing and get all the tenants to agree to ensure the responsibilities are clearly established before a pet is introduced to the property. We use a specific standalone pet agreement for this.
 
Extra Peace of Mind
If you really like the prospective tenants but still have concerns about the pet, consider the following.

  • Agree an increased deposit with the tenant (as long as it is within legal boundaries)
  • Check if tenant has got contents insurance that includes damage caused by pets
  • Has there been any damage caused or complaints made about their pet at their previous address?
  • Does the pet have any medical or behavioural problems? If so, what treatment or training are tenants using?
  • Who will care for the pet when tenants are on holiday or during a medical emergency?
  • Can tenant provide a written reference for the pet from the previous landlord?   

These are the main things you should consider before refusing a tenant with a pet. We find that tenants with pets stay longer as not everyone is keen to accept them. We find that if you are accommodating with them they can be great tenants.