Concent for a pet

Date Published 06 November 2016

Q : My tenants has asked whether it would be possible for them to have a dog. I have a dog myself so know how adorable they can be and have no problem in saying yes, though am I perhaps jumping the gun?

A : Many home owners today have a pet of one sort or another and as an owner occupier do not need to obtain consent, they can just go out and source their chosen pet to join their household. However, when it comes to tenants wanting a pet, things are very much different. Firstly, any tenant will be bound by the tenancy agreement which typically will restrict pets, unless written consent is obtained. However, consent can very much depend on the attitude of the Landlord. You mentioned that you already have a dog which may skew your opinions to agreeing to a dog, however, we need to ask some important questions beforehand. For example, is the property suitable for the pet in question? A lack of a garden may be fine for a cat, though less suitable for a dog that will have nowhere to run around. A cat may require a cat flap to get in and out and you do see at times these fitting into doors. Though, how repairable are they when the pet is no longer here. Removable panels in upvc doors or glass can be a suitable option. If the property is within a block of flats, the head lease may restrict pets, or restrict pets from using any communal parts. Fine if you're on the ground floor with your own private entrance, though most are via communal parts. Are the tenants able to take responsibility and deal with issues that may arise, like disturbing the neighbours because the dog is barking and out of control, or being abandoned when the owners are at work? As the slogan says a pet is not just for Christmas!
Assuming the request is suitable, then we have to ask the question about the formalities of granting consent. This should always be in writing clearly stating the terms of acceptance. Typically this would include the type and number of pet(s) permitted and that any damage caused by the pet(s) will need to be made good during and at the end of the tenancy. There will also be a need to have any carpets / flooring / curtains / soft furnishings professionally cleaned on vacation. This should include deodorising treatment especially for dogs and flee treatment for cats. There is also the need for the removal of all pet hairs. For a 2 bedroom house fully carpeting, this can run into several hundred pounds, so it is not necessarily a cheap option for tenants especially if they move around frequently. Other consideration is perhaps taking a higher deposit because of the pet. Cats especially can put scratches into woodwork, carpets and curtains causing some times many thousands of pounds of damage. Pets can attract other pets especially when on heat unless pre-treated, meaning that the tenant can sometimes have unwelcomed guests. Though, to reduce these risk, the tenant could take out some form of insurance for damage to Landlord's fixtures and fittings causing by the pet(s).
Taking this all into account, it can sometimes be a concern for Landlords and sometimes easier to politely decline. However, pets do give much love and enjoyment to their owners, so a balanced approach maybe wiser, as you may lose good tenants if their request is declined. However, Landlords must also be aware that they cannot reasonable restrict certain pets and this can include hamsters, guinee pigs and goldfish.