Letting to pet owners can pay dividend for landlords

Letting agency founder wants to educate landlords on the benefit of letting to animal lovers.

JLL’s residential estate agency business has seen a 25 per cent increase in tenants letting with pets in the last five years.

However, the agency believes that these tenants are likely to see rents increase once the Tenant Fees Act comes into force as it includes a tenancy deposit cap of five weeks rent.

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Lucy Morton, head of residential agency at JLL, says: “We have seen an increase in people letting with pets in recent years for several reasons, including a rise in dog and cat ownership

“Landlords who allow tenants to keep pets usually do so by charging a slightly higher deposit, which would cover any damage or additional cleaning should it be required, but with the five-week deposit cap, landlords may be deterred from letting to tenants with pets or forced to charge higher rents to cover any potential losses.

“The increase would depend on the rental value, but we anticipate approximately an additional three to four per cent per week.”

Lucy adds “With a host of regulations that landlords must adhere to, as well as the changes to mortgage interest relief, the fee ban and five-week deposit cap are adding yet more cost.

“This gives landlords no choice but to increase rents in order to see a return on their investment.”

Sarah Johnston, owner of Yorkshire letting agency Homes4Harrogate, says greater understanding is needed when it comes to animal lovers.

She has used her own experiences of renting a property with a pet to launch Lets4Pets as a new arm to her company.

She says: “There are a vast number of tenants who struggle to find rental accommodation as the majority of landlords won’t allow pets in their properties. Greater understanding is needed that pets are part of the family, plus they can help with both loneliness and mental health issues.”

Sarah has linked up with the charity Cats Protection and and for each Lets4Pets property that Homes4harrogate rentst, she will donate £5 to the Harrogate branch of Cats Protection.

She is also keen to inform landlords of the benefits of letting to pet owners.

“Firstly, and most importantly, there are shorter voids between lets, as pet-friendly properties are snapped up much more quickly due to the lack of availability. There are very few of them.

“Secondly, you tend to get much longer tenancies as tenants struggle to move elsewhere as it’s hard to find another animal-friendly rental property.”

While some landlords may disagree, she adds that the risk of damage to properties is small. Cat’s Protection notes that 75 per cent of private landlords who have had a tenant with a cat have not experienced any problems.

To help reassure landlords about potential damage and extra costs, she suggests that anyone who has concerns about having pets in their property can add a clause into the tenancy agreement stating that tenants must have all the carpets professionally cleaned and flea treated prior to the end of the tenancy.

“By keeping a bond as part of the lease, you are guaranteed to get this done,” says Sarah, who is adding a “donate now” link on the Homes4harrogate website to help raise more funds for Cat Protection Harrogate.

The branch is run by Bette Cowsill and it rehomes and rehabilitates unwanted, abandoned and feral cats from Bedale to Bardsey.

It costs on average £150 per cat for vaccinations, neutering and microchips plus extra cost for food, litter and accommodation.