Anyone who has rented with pets in the UK knows that it can be a real struggle to find accommodation that will allow pets. On top of all the other difficulties that accompany finding the right home to rent, seeing 'no pets' as a stipulation in many property ads is disheartening.
Fortunately, SpareRoom (opens in new tab) are launching a long-overdue discussion about renting and pet ownership, in partnership with the RSPCA (opens in new tab) and Crisis (opens in new tab). The Pet Think Tank will be looking at ways current UK landlords' negative attitudes towards people with pets can be changed, and has already produced a 44-page report (opens in new tab). The committee draws on the expertise of animal-loving economists, property professionals, charity representatives and vets.
The main reasons many landlords automatically refuse prospective tenants with pets are to do with fears of unwanted smells, damage to the property, and poorly trained and noisy pets. And yet, research undertaken by the Pet Think Tank shows that 88 per cent of people who do keep pets in rented accommodation have never had a complaint from their landlord.
In fact, nearly all of the research into pet ownership has proved time and again that pet owners make better tenants. On average, pet owners are prepared to pay more, move less, and are generally more responsible in terms of keeping their home clean and tidy. Considering that only seven per cent of property ads across the UK promise to 'consider pets' (and an even more dispiriting five per cent in London), it seems that a great many landlords are missing out on reliable and conscientious tenants.
Which is why the Think Tank will be 'employing' pets as research assistants as part of their project to help landlords to become more open-minded. The idea is to have landlords spend some time with well-behaved, well-trained pets, to see just how little impact on a property most pets really have. There are more ideas encouraging ideas, too.
Among other solutions proposed in the Think Tank's report are: introducing standardised, downloadable pet policy agreements that would ensure any damage that may occur will be covered; charging a pet subsidy (which many tenants are already paying anyway); and making social housing pet-friendly as standard.
Matt Hutchinson, communications director for SpareRoom says, 'With more of us renting our homes, it’s vital we have a conversation about what that means for quality of life. We know that allowing pets into rented homes can be particularly beneficial – and in more ways than people might think. Pets can be a source of higher rental income for landlords, but they can also improve the wellbeing of tenants, reduce the number of pets given up for rehoming or, worse, abandoned, and they can even have an impact on reducing homelessness.
'Ultimately, there’s no reason tenants shouldn’t be able to live with pets, subject to certain relevant conditions and checks being in place. By finding the obstacles and removing them, as well as seeing the positives, not just the negatives, we should be able to make it much easier for people to have a pet, whether they own their home or not.'