12 September, 2016
Whether you're a dog person, cat person or prefer something a little more exotic, the chances are pets have played at least some part in your life to this point. If you have an animal companion right now - be it furry, scaly or feathered - and need somewhere to live, you may well be hoping to rent.
If so, there are a few extra things you'll need to consider, both before you move and while you're living in the new place. It's part and parcel of being a property-renting pet owner unfortunately! The best way to ensure everything goes smoothly is to be prepared, and this guide will help.
Finding a property
The range of properties from which you can choose will inevitably be a little smaller if you're moving with an animal or two - most landlords are understandably wary about the idea of having any non-human tenants.
In fact, according to Dogs Trust, 78 per cent of pet owners have experienced difficulties when trying to find a suitable rental property, with one in three not able to secure one at all.
Whether you like it or not, you'll need to narrow your search significantly if you're to avoid disappointment. The key here is to work with an estate agent who can effectively filter out the houses and flats that aren't pet-friendly. This way you'll be able look only at those that you know are feasible, and there'll be no nasty surprises further down the line.
Feel free to ask
Bear in mind throughout your search that some landlords will be open to negotiation - it won't always be a black and white case of pets or no pets. It may be that a lizard or some fish in a tank is acceptable but a dog running around would be too much, for example. There's no harm in asking if you're unsure.
Space will undoubtedly be a bigger concern if you have certain types of pets. Cats and dogs will benefit from a garden, for instance, and this might influence the landlord's attitude; if they refuse to have animals in the property because it's a fourth-floor flat with no outside space, they're probably just being sensible. Either way, though, it's their property at the end of the day, so respect their decision.
Keep it clean!
Once you've found somewhere suitable to live, and the landlord knows you have pets, it's important to take extra care of their property while you're living there. Some property owners are wary of having dogs and cats around because they are known to leave fur, marks and even smells - the more you keep on top of these things, the happier your landlord will be.
Consider purchasing a pet fur-specific vacuum cleaner and use it regularly. You may even want to deep-clean the carpets once a month or every couple of months if your pet malts a lot. At the very least, have this done just before you move out. Your contract may even list a professional clean as a requirement.
Your pets may bring you plenty of enjoyment and happiness, but when they're barking in the middle of the night or using your neighbour's lawn as a bathroom, you can be pretty sure those around you aren't having quite as much fun.
Think about the impact your pets have on other people during your tenancy, and do your best to minimise it. The last thing your landlord wants is complaints from others in your street because they're being kept up at night. Of course, dogs make noise from time to time and cats are known to explore - that's all natural and completely acceptable - just don't let it get out of hand. If in doubt, chat to your neighbours and make it known that they're free to raise any concerns with you.
Whatever the agreement is when you move in, you'll need to inform the landlord of any changes during your tenancy. It's not ok to keep on acquiring more pets just because they've okayed the first one, for example - an in-the-loop landlord is a happy landlord!
When the time comes to leave, take extra care to ensure everything is as clean and tidy as it was when you arrived. Wear and tear will be expected to an extent, but it's still worth doing what you can to remove scratch and scuff marks, and have the upholstery professionally cleaned if your property is furnished - even if you can't see or smell obvious signs of pets, the landlord and their next tenant will be looking with fresh senses.
If everything has gone well and the owner is still happy at the end of your tenancy, ask them to include your pets in their reference. This can be useful for reassuring future agents and landlords who may otherwise be a little apprehensive.