Should you allow your tenants to keep pets?

Should you allow your tenants to keep pets?

Do you allow your tenants to keep pets?

There’s often pressure on landlords to accept tenants with pets. However, under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, a landlord can refuse permission for a tenant to keep a pet, if it’s reasonable to do so, for instance on grounds of the animal’s size, the damage it could cause and its impact on future rental prospects. As a result, many rental agreements drawn up by landlords insist on no animals.

Increasing Pressure

Back in February this year, the BBC reported that Labour wants to strengthen the rights of tenants to keep a pet in their properties, by creating a default right for them to do so unless there is evidence their pet will be a nuisance.

There was no clarification of what evidence would be needed to establish the animal was a nuisance.

Increasing Demand

What’s more, with increasingly larger numbers of people renting as a long solution to their housing needs, there is also an inevitably increasingly large demand for those long-term tenants (who are making a rented property their permanent home) to be allowed to keep pets.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that as much as half of the UK population owns a pet and, according to a recent survey by the Dogs Trust, 78% of pet owners have experienced difficulty in finding accommodation which accepts pets and 54% were never able to find a suitable property. Which means there’s an extensive market of potential tenants for landlords to tap into if they’re willing to accept tenants with pets.

Take Precautions

Pets are all very well, but we all know the problems that can result: damage to a property, not to mention additional odours and mess.

Of course, in meeting both pressure and demand, landlords are able to take appropriate precautions to mitigate any risk of damage. These measures should include taking out a more comprehensive landlord insurance policy, increasing the property’s damage deposit and ensuring that an independent and professionally compiled inventory is carried out.

But there’s a catch

Actually, there’s more than one catch. Firstly, as of next year, it is likely that damage deposits will be capped at a maximum of six weeks’ rent according to details in the Tenant Fees Bill introduced into Parliament last month. The cap on security deposits was initially announced in November last year during the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Secondly, some landlord organisations are concerned about how easy it will be for landlords to enforce breached tenancy conditions relating to pets. This will remain to be seen.

On the upside

Just because a tenant has a pet, doesn’t mean they’re going to damage your property. Tenants who want to make a property a long-term home for themselves, their children and their pets are often the best tenants – who pay on time and treat your property with respect.

So what’s our recommendation?

Don’t rule out tenants with pets. Instead, carry out some of the basic checks we’ve listed below:

  1. Check references in respect of previous properties the tenant has rented with their pets very carefully. How long did they live there, what sort of pets did they have, how did the pet behave, what condition was the property left in?
  2. Discuss the pets concerned with the tenant. What animals would they be, what is their temperament and behaviour like, would they be left alone, do they treat them for fleas etc.? Remember pets don’t just include dogs and cats and could be anything from rats to snakes!
  3. Consider asking to speak to their vet about the appropriateness of housing their pet in your property.
  4. Ask to meet the pet and check how many pets there will be (and their size).
  5. Ask who will look after the pet in an emergency. You want a name, address and phone number.
  6. Review your tenancy agreement and insurance policy to ensure they provide adequately for pets, including provision for potential pet damage (as this is not normally covered by normal insurance policies). Review the level of deposit required and consider the cost of professional cleaning after the tenant has left.  Make provision for what happens if the tenant goes away on holiday and provide for regular landlord checks.
  7. Once the tenancy has started, make sure you do check the property regularly.

Of course,  there will be occasions when despite your best endeavours, your tenant acquires a pet without you knowing. So in my next blog, I’ll be talking about what to do then and how often you should carry out inspections.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether the rules will eventually be changed about allowing pets.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

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Do you know about the new rules about gas safety?

Do you know about the new rules about gas safety?

New rules about gas safety checks came into force on the 6th April 2018. They came in slightly under the radar meaning many landlords and tenants simply aren’t aware of them yet. But they do make life a little easier!

Recap of landlord gas safety responsibilities

home safetyAs a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants and that includes making sure gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe (including any in a communal area used by tenants).

You are also responsible for their maintenance and repair by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You must ensure an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue which you provide and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

The pre-existing law required you to keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed as well as issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

New regulations make things easier for landlords

Under the new rules, you can now have the annual gas safety check on each appliance or flue carried out up to 2 months before the date the check is actually due but still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check. Confused? Let me explain by example…

If your annual check is due on the 1st September 2018, you could have the check carried out as early as the 1st July 2018 and still keep your next renewal deadline of 1st September 2019.

But it’s only a 2-month window  

If you decide to undertake your gas safety check less than 10 months since the date of the last check, then the new expiry date would be 12 months from the date of the latest check, not from the date of the check the year before. Confused again?

So, using our example, if your safety check was due on the 1st September 2018 but you got it done on the 28th June 2018 (2 months and 2 days before it was due), your new safety check date would be the 28th June 2019. Meaning it is important to check your dates if you want to take advantage of the new 2-month window.

A two-month window for new appliances

gas safety engineer If a new appliance is installed or changed in the property, you previously had to have it checked within 12 months. However, the new rules allow you two months after the expiration of that 12 months if it is in order to bring it in line with other appliances in the house.

So back to our example again, your boiler is due to be checked on the 1st September 2018 but in July last year, you had a new gas hob fitted which is due its first safety check in July this year. You can now postpone that check to the 1st September to bring it in line with the boiler.

Record keeping

The law had required you to keep a record of the safety checks for 2 years which might mean only one check had occurred in that time. The new rules require you to keep the last two gas safety checks for the property, though it’s best practice to keep previous ones too.

Commentary

These may only be minor changes but it’s not often that I get the chance to report that new laws are making life a bit easier for landlords!

The changes should mean a chance to save some small costs (one engineer and call out rather than two or more) and give landlords just a little bit of time and flexibility without any compromise on safety. And that’s got to be good news!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com