First ever 'pet think tank' launches to help cat and dog owners looking to rent

27 November 2018

It can be extremely frustrating for pet owners who rent to find a suitable property, but help may be at hand.

A new think tank has launched to help address the lack of pet-friendly rental accommodation in the UK.

The think tank has been formed by flat-sharing website SpareRoom in a bid to generate new ideas and policies that could encourage landlords to accept more pets in rented properties.

It is fronted by a team of landlord representatives, economists, vets and property professionals, as well as the RSPCA and homeless charity Crisis.

Matt Hutchinson from SpareRoom, explains: “With more of us renting our homes it’s vital we have a conversation about what that means for quality of life. We know that allowing pets into rented homes can be particularly beneficial - and in more ways than people might think.”

Among the think-tank’s initial ideas to convince landlords to accept pets are:

  • Working to get damage by pets covered, both in landlord insurance policies and by tenants
  • Tenants agreeing to sign a contract to say that they’d pay for any damages their pet was responsible for
  • Charging a subsidy for pets on top of a tenant’s normal monthly rent
  • Creating a pet policy agreement between landlords and renters, which could be easily downloaded

SpareRoom also plans to 'employ' cats and dogs as ‘research assistants’ to visit rented homes and demonstrate to landlords how they behave and treat properties.

Research from SpareRoom has found that 69% of landlords say they won’t allow tenants to keep pets. This leads to many people keeping a pet in their property without their landlord’s knowledge - breeching the terms of their rental contract.

Landlord’s said they did not allow pets because of smell (57%), potential damage to the property (55%) and concerns they won’t be trained (37%).

On the upside for landlords, if they allow pets there is potential for greater revenue.

Out of the tenants that already own a pet, 53% of said they pay between £10 and £49 extra rent per month to allow their pet to live with them, with 32% paying between £50 and £99 extra.

Other potential benefits of allowing more pets in rented properties include improved physical and mental wellbeing for tenants and a reduction in the number of pets that end up in rehoming centres.

Mr Hutchinson says: “Pets can be a source of higher rental income for landlords, but they can also improve the wellbeing of tenants, reduce the number of pets given up for rehoming or, worse, abandoned, and they can even have an impact on reducing homelessness.”

He adds: “Ultimately, there’s no reason tenants shouldn’t be able to live with pets, subject to certain relevant conditions and checks being in place.

"By finding the obstacles and removing them, as well as seeing the positives, not just the negatives, we should be able to make it much easier for people to have a pet, whether they own their home or not.”


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I currently rent with pets but have been trying to downsize for a year now. I have no family & have mental health problems. My dogs are my life line. They are what keep me functioning. They are more than a pet, They are my support & although they are not registered therapy dogs, they fulfill this role. If I don’t find a pet friendly home in the next 6 weeks, I will have to rehomed them. I can’t bear to lose them. Does anyone know of an organisation in east Suffolk who can help me. I’m desperate.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We have a dog and used to have a cat so I can quite understand why landlords don't want to allow them. If I were a landlord i would only consider this if the tenant agreed to replace/repair furniture, fixtures, and fittings damaged by the pet e.g. scratched or soiled, and to clean all soft furnishing, and clean or potentially even replace carpets when they leave. Houses with dogs especially and often cats pretty much always smell of the animals. I'd therefore want to up the deposit to cover this and also charge an additional fee to cover additional insurance cover against possible nuisance claims if the pet is badly behaved.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I rent a property and I don't allow pets. Experience has taught me that tenants do not respect the property they rent as if it were their own. Cats and dogs scratch doors, paintwork, foul carpets, pathways, patios and they carry ticks and fleas.

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