If you decide to allow pets, here’s how to protect yourself
Here’s a question that crops up more often than you might think. You’ve let your property to a young professional couple. They’ve been in the property a few months now, and have proved to be great tenants. They pay their monthly rent on time, and property inspections have confirmed that they treat your property well. Now they have contacted you to say they want a dog.
Pets weren’t part of the original deal. You’ve always been concerned by the smell and damage they could cause. You’re worried that if the pet gets flees, it could infest the rest of the property. You may have extra costs of cleaning when the tenants move. And if the pet is a yapper, its barking could disturb the neighbours.
It’s a difficult question to answer. Do you decline the request and risk losing good tenants, with the possibility of a costly void period to follow?
The plus side of pets
There are some plus sides of allowing pets. For example, you may attract more interest for your property. However, in our example, your tenants are already in place. So, what advantages might allowing the pet offer you?
Perhaps the most obvious is that your tenants won’t feel inclined to move on. However, it could also persuade them to stay longer. Most landlords don’t allow pets, so it will be harder for them to find a home they love to move into with their dog.
For the same reason, tenants with pets may prove to be extra careful with your property. They want their tenancy to be renewed, so allowing them to have the pet could encourage your tenant to stay longer and be even better.
Finally, a dog can provide extra protection. It could help prevent intruders, burglars, and vandals.
The decision whether to allow your tenants to have a pet is yours to make. But understanding these positives and weighing them against the potential negatives should help you make a better decision.
How to protect yourself against the pet disadvantages
Let’s say that you decide to allow the tenants to buy that dog they desire. Here’s how you can drive away those niggling doubts that remain.
· Meet the pet
Ask to meet the pet, and see how your tenants treat it, and how it responds to them.
Consider the size of the pet. A one-bedroom apartment probably won’t be suitable for a Great Dane, but may be perfect for a small ‘lap dog’.
· Update the tenancy agreement with pet clauses
You should discuss the tenants’ responsibilities with them, to ensure that they understand how they will change now they have a pet. Then put it all in writing by updating the tenancy agreement with pet clauses. Leave the tenants in no doubt that if these clauses are breached, you will use the rules to evict tenants from a buy-to-let property.
· Conduct a ‘pre-pet’ inventory
Update your property inventory with a ‘pre-pet inventory’. Take plenty of photographic evidence and ensure that the tenants sign and date it. Should damage be caused by the pet, you will have irrefutable evidence to make a claim against the tenants’ deposit.
· Make sure you inspect the property regularly
It’s good practice to inspect properties with pets more regularly. This will help you identify any damage or other pet issues early. The sooner any problem is uncovered, the cheaper it is usually to solve it.
· Take an extra pet payment
Ask for a non-refundable pet payment, to cover the costs of professional cleaning when the tenants leave.
You might also consider increasing the rent you charge. This will cover the extra costs of more regular property inspections, updating the tenancy agreements, and so on.
Ensure that you include any extra payments, and any restrictions on them, in the updated tenancy agreement.
These five actions should help you overcome any lingering pet fears you may have, but it is also worth considering that:
- Your landlord insurance may not cover damage by pets. You should contact your insurer to discuss this issue.
- If you do evict the tenant and they leave the pet behind, the pet becomes your responsibility.
Whether to allow pets in your buy-to-let properties is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are advantages to doing so, but also disadvantages. You can mitigate for these disadvantages with a suitable pet strategy, but you will never eliminate pet risk.
However, if an existing good tenant has asked if they can have a pet on your property, it may be worth allowing them that luxury. If this is the case, you will need to:
- Negotiate new tenancy terms
- Ensure that the tenants understand their increased responsibilities
- Make certain that you add necessary pet clauses to the tenancy agreement
- Ensure that you cover the extra costs and financial risks you may face
If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, get in touch with the team at Ezytrac on +44 0 1522 503 717. It’s unlikely that you’ll be the only one asking, and the answer could help other landlords up and down the country.
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