A recent survey by pet insurance provider animalfriends.co.uk, conducted with over 2000 renters found that 27% of renters in the UK haven’t informed their landlord that they have pets, with over half of these people admitting they owned the pet before they moved in.
Almost 10% of those asked said that when their landlord found out about the illegal pet, they made changes to their tenancy agreement and the most popular repercussion was being asked to sign a completely new agreement.
The survey comes as the impending Tenant Fee ban and a cap on security deposits at one month may force many landlords to place an outright ban on pets in their properties for fear they will not have enough funds available to repair any potential damage.
So why are renters keeping these a secret?
Many tenants will hide the evidence of their pets so that they are not asked to pay an extra deposit when moving in, or pay the costs of preparing an addendum to add a clause to their agreement midway through their tenancy. Many additional pet clauses specify that the property has to be professionally cleaned and the tenant must pay the costs of flea treatment if fleas are found when they move out. Any damage caused by the pet must also be rectified at the tenants expense (your agent and inventory clerk can always tell at the end of your tenancy that a pet was present!).
The repercussions of not informing your landlord are that he will find out and you will probably end up paying more. It will also make you seem dishonest if found out midway through the tenancy (Our property inspectors regularly note evidence of pets which tenants have clearly attempted to hide on and then we have had to note it on the inspection report which get sent to the landlord) and if your landlord is really against pets in the property, he could ask you to remove the pet completely or ask you vacate the property entirely.
What to do if you want to get a pet and you are renting?
The simple answer is just to be honest. If you have a pet when you are looking to rent, let your landlord or agent know in advance and they can add it as a negotiated special clause before the tenancy begins, yes you may need to pay a slightly larger deposit but the likelihood of you getting it back in full is higher as you will clearly understand and agree the obligations your landlord will hold you to. If you wish to get a pet mid-way through the tenancy, put the request in writing to your landlord with details of the pet (large dog? Small dog? Where will it be kept?) and explain you are happy to sign an addendum detailing your new obligations. Your landlord may ask you to pay an extra amount of money as deposit in case of any further damage caused by the pet (not all pets do this but let’s face it, we’ve all seen sofas scratched to pieces by cats and new paintwork ruined by boisterous dogs) but just check this extra money is registered along with the deposit you have already paid and a new deposit protection certificate issued to you.
There are also some specific contents insurance policies that do include accidental damage from pets but check your policy carefully as many insurers do not include this.
If in doubt about how to proceed with a pet in your rented property, as always feel free to get in touch for advice.
Angharad Trueman – Operations Manager