A new research report from leading animal welfare charity Battersea highlights the difficulties facing tenants when it comes to pet ownership, with 50% of people struggling to find pet friendly properties.
In the UK 23% (4.3 million) of all households now rent their home from private landlords. Demand for pet-friendly rental homes appears to be at an all-time high, with 43 per cent of tenants currently owning a pet and a further 33 per cent hoping to own a pet now or in the future. These figures suggest that more than three quarters of renters are affected by landlord pet policies.
Battersea’s research found that there can be major obstacles preventing private tenants from getting a new pet or even keeping a beloved one they have had for many years. Property websites Rightmove and Zoopla confirm Battersea’s findings of a huge disparity between surge in demand and lack of options. Rightmove reports that in the last year the demand for rented properties that allow pets has increased by 120 per cent, while Zoopla found only seven per cent of landlords listed their properties as suitable for pets in 2021.
Like many people across the country, Sara’s* life was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. A change in her financial circumstances meant that she needed to find somewhere more affordable for her and her 16-year-old cat to live in Sussex. When enquiring about properties, Sara repeatedly found conversations were shut down as soon as she mentioned having a cat, despite offering glowing references from previous landlords for both her and her pet. She finally found a flat with a landlord willing to waive the no pet policy on the condition that the other tenants and landlords did not find out as the whole building has a blanket ban on pets.
Peter Laurie, Battersea’s Chief Executive, said: “Each year rescues like Battersea take in much-loved pets from responsible owners who have had to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their companion because they have been unable to find a rental property that will allow a pet. While we will always help any animal in need, we believe that by campaigning for more pet friendly homes across the country, we will see fewer dogs and cats being brought into us and more staying in their original loving homes. Battersea is here to support tenants, landlords and housing providers in getting more pets into rented homes.”
Of course, many landlords do recognise the immense benefit and joy of pet ownership, some of whom are pet owners themselves. London landlord and dog owner Francesca Grosso has always allowed pets in her property in Islington. Several years ago, she had a negative experience with a tenant who did not disclose they had dogs and unfortunately caused damage, but she says this would never stop her from allowing pets as she knows herself how important they are.
Francesca said; “Although I have suffered from a bad experience of a pet-owning tenant before, this has not stopped me from renting to pet lovers again. The lack of pet friendly rental properties is a massive issue that needs addressing, and I welcome Battersea’s campaign wholeheartedly.”
Battersea’s report found that the main reason landlords were still wary of allowing pets in their property was concern about the risk of damage to their property or mess. However, only three per cent of dog owners reported that their pet had ever damaged property or been the subject of a noise complaint. Battersea’s Pet Friendly Properties campaign aims to dispel misconceptions while also recognising landlords’ valid concerns and finding solutions.
One of Battersea’s recommendations is that more landlords and tenants should be informed of the benefits of taking out insurance against pet damage. The charity found that 42 per cent of landlords would be willing to consider allowing pets if they could ask for insurance against pet damage, and 33 per cent were in favour if able to impose a higher security deposit. These are just two of many compromises that landlords and tenants could use to reach an agreement that works for all parties and keeps pets together with their owners.
A tenant who successfully made compromises to be allowed to keep her dog in a new home is Kerrie Fuller in Leicester. Kerrie’s previous landlord had to sell the property and gave Kerrie and her family three months to find a new place to live. It felt impossible for her to to find a home that was not only pet friendly for the family dog, but also within suitable distance of her young son’s school. It took Kerrie months of searching before she finally found somewhere that didn’t immediately reject her request to bring a pet, but even then she had to use the money she’d been saving for her wedding to pay a larger deposit, along with agreeing to an increase in rent and an agreement on house rules including no pets upstairs.
Kerrie said: “It was such a stressful time and an awful position to be in. I recall feeling like we would never find anywhere because single young professionals would always be more appealing to a landlord than me with a family and dog.”
To read the full report, click here. To find out more about Battersea’s Pet Friendly Properties campaign and sign the pledge to receive updates of how you can show your support, please visit the www.battersea.org.uk/pet-friendly-properties.
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