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.

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