Monday, 27 January 2014

Renting with pets - Part 1

I promised this post ages ago back in one of my first posts, as we rent with pets I get a few questions on how that works from friends and family wanting to know how we get on or looking to maybe get a pet themselves. I've broken this up a bit otherwise it would have been a long wordy post, so this is the first part on how to find a pet friendly rental.
I love our pets, and once we get our own house we will have a dog (the cats will not be impressed), but I would be the first to admit being a tenant and having pets can be a bit of a tricky situation. So how do you go about finding somewhere pet friendly or convincing your current landlord to let you have pets? We got our cats when we lived at our last property which we rented from family. This was therefore a lot more lenient, and we had no trouble getting the cats, but when we moved it proved to be difficult so here are some hints and tips on what I found when trying to find a pet friendly rental.
  • Just ask. If the advert says no pets then it’s probably no pets, but if it doesn’t mention pets at all then it’s worth asking. If you really like the look of a place but it says no pets then it’s actually probably still worth phoning and asking, if the property has been on the market a while and the landlord wants to get a tenant they might consider it, and the worst they can do is say no. The same goes for your current landlord, if you moved in with no pets you probably didn't ask if pets are allowed, so just ask.
  • 'Don't look at that look at MEEEE'
  • The split I found was about 80% no pets, and 20% yes to small pets. Although this will differ on area and type of property (e.g. large family homes in the countryside might allow pets more often than small flats in the city). Obviously that 20% was then reduced further by location, price, our requirements and taste etc, so about 10% of places I rang to enquire about were actually viable for us and our pets. That sounds like a terrible ratio and it was a little soul destroying being told no time after time, but we got there in the end to our lovely flat. It just takes more effort to find a rental when you have pets.
  • Having pets will limit you while house hunting in more ways than one, as you also need to find somewhere suitable for your animals as well as somewhere where they’re allowed. For example we saw some lovely 3rd or 4th floor flats but we wouldn't have been able to let the cats in and out so they were not a possibility for us, we wanted ground floor or a very low 1st floor.
  • The turtles have never been an issue, once people find out that they never leave the tank they’re pretty OK with them. So I’d say things like fish, lizards, snakes, frogs etc that live in tanks and rarely come out and mess up the place are likely to be pretty acceptable, although definitely check first that they are allowed.
If only they stayed this small!
  • We found that private landlords are more likely to allow pets rather than going through an agency. Often agencies will have a blanket rule for all their properties with regards to things like pets, smokers, benefits etc, and as it is not their property are not going to bend the rules.
  • Be upfront and honest, I ask about pets on the first phone call to enquire about a property. Some people said to me to go and view a place first and show our interest then once we have said we would like to take the property say we have pets as the landlord is more likely to allow it if you are already there. I personally don’t think this is the best way to do things, it seems like a waste of time for everyone involved. In this rental market places go so quickly that I don’t think it makes any difference to the landlord that you are keen on the place if they do not allow pets, as they will find a tenant with no pets just as quickly.
  • Although it doesn't hurt to play up your positives, for example Tom and I could move in right away and had a deposit ready, we have both been in our jobs for years and have great references from work and our previous landlords, we have great credit and are looking for a long term let…but oh yes we have 2 little cats and 2 even littler turtles.

  • You might be asked to sign a pet clause in the contract, or pay an additional deposit. Think about what you would be prepared to do, we just had an addition to our contract that we have 2 cats so would need to rectify any damage they caused but obviously we would expect to do this any way. We weren't asked for any extra money on the deposit but I have heard of people being asked to do this, the amount that would be reasonable to ask for would depend on the rent of the property.
  • If the place you are renting now allows pets, or you ask your current landlord and they say yes, think about what would happen if you had to move. The nature of renting often means you move more often than if you owned a place and it is not always your choice, so just bear in mind that you might struggle to find another pet friendly place. Maybe research the market in your area first and see how many more pet friendly places there are. I wish we had done this before getting our cats, we might have waited otherwise or would at least have been prepared for how hard it was to find somewhere else.
  • There are definitely places around that allow small pets like cats, turtles, fish, hamsters etc even if they are hard to find. Dogs and multiple pets appear to be more of an issue though. Think about what animal you want to have and if they are going to be a problem for future landlords.
  • Who could say no to that face?
  • Attitude. One lady said to me on the phone that 2 cats was a problem but 1 would be OK ‘I suppose’ (like she was doing me a massive favour), would I still like to view the property? I said no, what was I supposed to pick my favourite and leave the other one behind? A lot of landlords and agents I spoke with had very negative attitudes to pets, and some were even downright rude when I asked about pets, even though their ad didn't actually state ‘no pets’. Which I did point out to a few rather rude agents and landlords. My pets are my family, I am not prepared to leave them behind or choose between them so I never even considered these very insensitive offers or comments. Unfortunately as a tenant sometimes you have to deal with rude landlords or agents, for some reason a few of them seem to view tenants as an inconvenience and if you ring with anything other than a grovelling attitude asking them to please please please let you view their property then they get rather annoyed. I take the opinion that I wouldn't want to rent from this type of person anyway if they are rude or unhelpful, I’ll take my money elsewhere.

That’s about it really, if you have anything to add please add it in the comments! Next month - preparing a rental property for pets and how to minimise damage in those key first weeks.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Life recently

OK I have been a bit of a terrible blogger over the last few weeks, my 3 posts a week routine has gone severely off track. I am trying to post something at least once a week, but I have just gotten so side tracked with other projects and interests that there is really not much going on home wise around here at the moment. I feel like my inspiration and focus is just being dragged in 20 different directions and I'm not having time to follow through any of the projects that come into my head. This will improve soon hopefully as some projects come to an end and some things simmer down a little, it kind of has to otherwise I'll just run out of time to do everything.

The decluttering WILL be finished as soon as Tom takes the stuff to the charity shop/lets me have the car so I can just do it myself. hint hint hint. Then I can show you after pictures of the rooms that have really benefited and I can move on to other things, which I cannot do while I am knee deep iin boxes of crap waiting to go.

Any who I thought I'd share some of the things distracting me for now, this is how my pinterest has looked recently (interspersed with the mandatory cute animals/baby animals/memes):

Wedding....Ah wedding. We have paid off the venue and are looking at caterers, so starting to think about styling as this is next. I have no idea. Literally no clue. So I am having anxiety dreams about dress shopping (like I leave it to the last week and have to buy an ugly dress that doesn't fit). I know what venue we liked and I know what food we like, but band or DJ? What dress? Bridesmaid dresses? Flowers? Buttonholes? Decorations? Readings? Guest List? Invites? The list grows and grows and I have no idea about most of it so I am just constantly looking for inspiration. Also trying to breathe and take it one thing at a time, not jumping ahead to worry about things that will make more sense later (e.g. the flowers will be easier to choose when I have the dress) 

Fitness. I've been bouldering for 6 months now and am doing the course at our local climbing centre to learn to climb on the bigger walls, with ropes and harnesses etc. I've become fitness conscious, something which I have never been before! I'm going to try running again (my knee is better) and I've been thinking about other fitness or ways to improve my climbing. I go 3 times a week and that in itself is a time suck, add in the course this month and I feel like I spend a lot of time at the climbing centre. Not that I mind but it kind of means a lot less spare time. 

NB this image is not me it is of course how I'll look in another 6 months. Minus the tan. 
This one I love because it has happened to me, routes I couldn't do I now warm up on and it reminds me to push myself on harder routes...

Travel. Honeymoon and this year. And just generally. No secret that Tom and I love to travel, and our honeymoon was always going to be epic. It is so hard to decide though! We think we have settled on Hawaii but nothing set yet. Also we might be going on a trek or climb later this year that will take a lot of charity fundraising and training. I will share this once it is confirmed (cannot wait!) but this is also why I have been more fitness and training conscious recently. We will also be going on a bit of a climbing/walking holiday in the UK before to train, which hopefully will be good (weather dependent). So I have the travel daydream bug until at least one of these things gets booked. I am not a daydreamer I am a doer so this does not agree with me...I am itching to just get it all booked!

Those are the main things which are drawing my focus recently, you should see the state of the flat (and me) so I am trying to stay motivated and open to new things. This is a big 2 years coming up for us and most of the time I feel like I'm ready for it, other times I want to hide under my duvet. So I am also collecting lots of motivational images 

And things to keep me amused and distracted from the fact that I have a LOT to do (mainly involving puppies, kittens or other cute things)
 I laugh at this more than I should.
 I need one of these bags at least once a day.
Generally life is pretty awesome at the moment, if a bit overwhelming, so I'm thankful and so excited for the 2 years to come! I hopefully will have loads of things to share with you guys along the way!
What are you guys up to? Any exciting plans for 2014 and beyond?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Mini Resolutions

Around this time of year I usually start thinking about new year’s resolutions, usually big stuff like lose weight, get fit etc. However this year is a little different, I have a good fitness regime at the moment with climbing 3 nights a week and I hope to start running again this week now my knee is better. I've given up smoking (nearly 2 years now!). I walk more and drive less now I don’t have a car. I eat well and cook fresh healthy (ish) meals. I'm a bit stuck for a resolution.
I also have so many things to do next  year (including a big thing which is not confirmed yet but hopefully will be soon and I can share with you – no I am not pregnant) and we are getting married in early 2015 so it’s going to be a very busy year for us. I thought to avoid my brain just bursting with all the stuff that I have to do I wouldn't put any more pressure on myself with big goals and ambitions and just make some little mini resolutions to try to make life go a bit more smoothly. These are just small things that I know I can work on to make life easier so writing them down just helps to motivate me. It’s mainly about breaking bad habits rather than starting new ones for me this year.
  • Put clean clothes away straight away. We take the clean dry washing off the airers and often leave it on the bed, or in baskets for days, then have a mammoth clothes sorting and putting away session at the weekend. It would make life so much easier if it just all went straight into the wardrobes (I don’t iron), and it would keep the bedroom much tidier. It’s one of those habits that we have gotten into where it seems easier to just leave things but in the long run it actually isn't saving us any time.
  • Wash dishes every night after dinner. Another habit that seems easier, especially when we are both tired or eating late. Also as we used to have a dishwasher and now we don’t doing dishes seems like a major chore, but if we just took 5-10 minutes after dinner with one washing and the other drying we could have a clean kitchen most of the time rather than the mess it often becomes (when I then have to spend 30 minutes cleaning it and washing the piles of dishes before I can even think about cooking).
  • Make more of evenings in the week and don’t leave so much until the weekend/days off, a lot of people who work full time will probably identify with this one. I never seem to get everything done that I want to at the weekend as I just have too much planned, and often don’t have enough time to really unwind. I don’t feel like I have enough time or energy during the week to do this stuff, but I actually do have plenty of time I just don’t want to do it after work. This isn't about forcing myself to spend every minute being productive because although I’d like to think that I’d get in from climbing and full day’s work at 8 or 9pm after leaving at 7am and have enough energy to clean the bathroom, I know that in reality this is not going to happen. However I could try to get more done on days where I am not busy after work, 3 days a week I have no set after work commitments. Obviously I would like to have some leisure time to eat, watch TV etc but I could still spend some time doing something productive like food shopping, cleaning, paying bills etc. This would add up over the week to a cleaner house and not so many errands to run by the weekend…meaning I can have some of the weekend actually to myself, or for things like wedding planning or sorting out stuff for our ‘secret thing’ to avoid feeling like my to do list is just endlessly growing…

I think the key with all of these is not to sit down or put the TV on when I get in from work or straight after dinner, does anyone else get this time warp effect where you think you’ll just sit down with a cuppa and watch little bit of TV then all of a sudden the evening is gone? This post over on ugly duckling house explains it really well.
Do any of you have any new year resolutions? Are they big and exciting or small but do-able like laundry?