Advice for Renting Properties to Pet Owners After the Tenant Fees Act
When the Tenant Fees Act came into force in 2019, there was a lot to take in for letting agents and landlords. The Act effectively prevented them from asking tenants for any costs other than holding deposits, security deposits, rent and charges for defaulting on the tenancy agreement. With the Tenant Fees Act nearly a year old, and about to apply to existing tenancies as well as new contracts, we can focus on some of the issues that have arisen. One of those concerns renting properties to pet owners after the Tenant Fees Act.
Can I Charge Tenants for a Pet Deposit?
Many landlords and letting agents would have previously asked for an additional security deposit from pet owners before the tenant fee ban. This was to cover them for any damage caused by the pet. However, this type of pet deposit is an example of the charges that are no longer permissible under the Tenant Fees Act.
Pet deposits were held in much the same way as regular security deposits and used by letting agents and landlords to put right any negative effects of pets living in the property. This could include deep cleaning to remove odours and dirt, repairs for damage caused to furniture and fittings, issues with the garden and any other pet-related problem.
Extreme Solutions to Get Around the Pet Deposit Ban
This pet deposit ban as part of the Tenant Fees Act has caused a headache for some letting agents and landlords. The Act also prevented them from raising the rent initially to cover charges such as drawing up inventories, performing credit checks and covering potential pet damage costs, and then dropping it down again to the regular amount after a few months.
In some cases, this led to letting agents and landlords increasing the rent on the properties they let to pet owners for the entire length of the tenancy. An investigation in The Guardian found that a landlord in Cheltenham had added an extra £50 a month onto the rental for his property if tenants had “four-legged friends”, but they paid the regular market value if they had only fish or hamsters, or no pets at all.
This pet deposit ban has led to some renters paying out the same amount as they would have done for an additional deposit on top of the rent, but without the opportunity to be refunded if they keep the property in an orderly manner.
Other letting agents are even requesting individual references for renters’ dogs as well as for the humans.
What Can You Do When Renting Properties to Owners After the Tenant Fee Ban?
Although there is nothing illegal about increasing rents for pet owners and referencing dogs, you might not feel it is the ideal way to form a good relationship with your tenants. With that in mind, you should look for alternative ways of protecting your properties.
Firstly, it is worth remembering that the majority of pet owners are responsible people. They treat their pets well and look after the property in which they live. If you get along well with them and facilitate clear lines of communication, they are much more likely to treat the house as their own. Indeed, the scarcity of rental accommodation on offer for pet owners, particularly since the Tenant Fees Act, means that they are more likely to be keen to impress as tenants.
If you want to make sure they clean up after themselves, you can insist on it in the tenancy agreement. It could be a clause that holds them to a professional deep clean before they move out, or to regular sessions so that animal odours do not become ingrained. Executive Property Management Solutions can draw up the ideal tenancy agreement for your properties as part of outsourcing your property management duties.
Here are some other measures you can take:
Decide which pets are suitable for each property. Small dogs in small flats are fine, but you wouldn’t want someone moving in with a St Bernard. Just because you allow pets, doesn’t mean you have to accept all pets in all properties.
Meet them and their pet before signing an agreement to give you a better impression of what they will be like as a tenant.
Make sure you get a reference from a property in which they previously lived with a pet. This will give you a good idea of how they behave in a similar situation.
When you outsource your property management to Executive Property Management Solutions, we take care of all the extra admin created by the tenants fee ban. This gives you more time to concentrate on the tasks that bring in more business for your agency. Contact us through the form below to chat about your requirements.