Landlords demand pet references with pictures and biography

Landlords demand pet references with pictures and biography

0:02 AM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago 19

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Landlords in the UK are now requesting ‘pet references’ complete with photographs and biographies of dogs and cats, due to the increased popularity of pet ownership during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, the i newspaper reports.

Renters are going to great lengths, crafting detailed descriptions of their pets’ behaviours and temperaments, to secure a rental property.

According to reports from letting agents, there’s a noticeable ‘new trend’ where pet owners are adopting creative approaches to secure rental properties in a highly competitive market.

The agents say that tenants becoming ‘creative’ in securing a rented home in the face of strong demand.

The growth in pet references comes ahead of the Renters (Reform) Bill which will see landlords having to accept a tenant with a pet unless they ‘reasonably refuse’.

If the tenant can provide a pet reference

The newspaper quotes Harriet Scanlan, the lettings manager at Antony Roberts in London, who says that some landlords are reluctant to accept a pet, but others are now more open to the idea – if the tenant can provide a pet reference from a previous landlord.

The Covid-19 lockdown saw a big rise in pet ownership with lots of people wanting a pet while they spent long periods at home.

It is at the discretion of a landlord, currently, whether they want a pet in their rented property.

‘I have had two or three physical pet references’

Harriet told i: “I have had two or three physical pet references with a photo of the pet. That’s definitely a new trend post-lockdown.”

And Emlyn Akoto-Dwemoh, from John D Wood & Co, said that providing pet references is now an integral part of the ‘traditional landlord reference’ process.

This involves asking previous agents and landlords about a pet’s behaviour and the impact it may have had on a rented home.

Mr Akoto-Dwemoh some tenants ‘submit a pet bio or profile’ along with a cute picture in a bid to sway a landlord.

The move, he says, is aimed at tugging on the heartstrings of property managers and landlords.

The lettings area manager at Johns&Co, Jay Clarke, says that some tenants will go the ‘extra mile’ and craft detailed paragraphs about their pet, outlining their temperament and behaviours.

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Paul Essex

10:04 AM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

I would only accept a pet reference in the pets own handwriting, otherwise they could just copy and paste from the Internet!

I am happy to house a litterate cat.

Fergus Wilson

10:54 AM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

If the tenant lives in a flat or wishes to take a flat, the first question is does the lease permit the occupant to keep a pet. Specifically, I am thinking of a dog!

It is very likely the Lessor was not the original party to the lease. The lessee is bound by the lease.

I am not anti dog and have owned six dogs per generation always purchasing three males from a litter. The generations are four years apart.

I did breed two litters myself in 1983 but that is forty years ago.

Most new housing developments have a restrictive covenant preventing the keeping of a budgie aviary in the garden, poultry and so on.

Yes, I have a budgie aviary! Yes I keep poultry!

However, the standard AST says no animals are to be kept.

What does that mean? In reality the landlord can give written permission should he so chose!

We are clearly moving to a situation where all tenants will be able to keep a pet with or without the landlord's consent.

Many councils already permit this in council owned properties., It is the flavour of the future.

As far as the Private Sector is concerned it would seem that it will at some future point be unlawful to refuse a tenancy because the tenant wishes to keep a dog.

Having seen what the Home Secretary has had to say about dangerous dogs over the past two days I can see there is going to be a problem over the breed of the dog.

I have had a tenant show to me a puppy which turned out to be a "wolfdog" being 50% domestic dog and 50% wolf which is classified as a dangerous animal.

I am guessing it was eight weeks old and looked like a smokey grey puppy.

It is not quite that simple as many think. If the PSL refused a pet there would need to be an appeal procedure,

How long will that take?

It needs to be very well thought out but in principle it seems the future holds that a tenant will be able to keep a pet!

If a dog then consideration has to be given to the breed of dog!

Jonathan Cocks

10:57 AM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

as a Landlord i would be happy to accept a new tenant (if they have good references etc.) who has a 'normal' domestic pet as long as:
1 the flat/property is suitable for that animal
2 the potential tenant provides a report from their vet, at their expense, so i can check with that vet that the animals welfare has been considered to date.

i believe a caring tenant with a pet is more likely to be long term tenant, as their rental options are more restricted.

legally am i allowed to make these checks?

Martin Hicks

11:47 AM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan Cocks at 12/09/2023 - 10:57
With the present discussion regarding dogs attacking people, it would seem prudent and reasonable to seek reliable information about any pet, for the safety and acceptance by family members or neighbours.

Really Reluctant Landlord

19:26 PM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

This is probably the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a long while! I could give you a glowing report on my cat that we have had for over 13 years. UNTIL... she developed diabetes three years ago. Oh my word, she was weeing, pooing, and vomiting all over the place, she was so ill! She could hardly walk. It took a year to get her meds right and in that time she managed to ruin both carpeted areas and wooden flooring. No matter how quickly you find and deal with accidents, it has a lasting effect (ruined flooring, smell etc). It's probably the silliest thing to say that a pet is well-behaved and thus will be no problem. You absolutely CAN NOT predict the future of your pet.

LordOf TheManor

19:46 PM, 12th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

Hold on a minute- or two!!
So far, the discussions regarding pets (to accept or not) are about pre-existing ones only.
Do what you will with a pet 'reference' from any number of previous landords of the said pet. Are they more reliable than the 'previous landlord' references so easily circumvented by the means known to wiley tenants?
External reference companies used by agencies are also known to circumvent situations where there is no previous landlord reference to be had - whether this is because there 'isn't one' (no investigations made as to why) or when the previous landlord refuses to provide one. With such low-level referencing, whether the tenant had or introduced a pet after the tenancy began isn't featured on the questionaire to either the past landlord or the prospective tenant. In 38 years as a landlord, I've never been asked that question. Come on!!
Main stream reference providers aren't interested/couldn't care less anyway. They deliberately make minimal searches to get the tenant passed so that they can offer the landlord an on-going financial commitment to purchase to RGI insurance. Their referencing detail fails on a stand alone basis. No serious player in the RGI market, e.g. Alan Boswell, would cover tenants so-say referenced by Homelet, Van Mildert/Rightmove. Quite so: there's no quality in the referencing - there never has been! They've only ever been interested in the insurance sales.
The next discussion completely missed so far is: what about existing tenants who now want to keep a pet for the first time?
How is this to be managed?
No previous record of owning a pet in a property not their own, no knowing how they will manage doing so or affording the extra cost, no knowing whether they're going to invest in dog-training or know how to successfully house train a cat or cats. Litter trays are not fail-safe nor are their users. Who pays for the results of the spilled unowot?
Wait.... there's more!
The best AST agreements have clauses related to tenants' absences from the property and the need to inform the landlord of when the property is going to be unoccupied for x amount of days. On this basis:
Is this with or without the pets still in situ? If the cat feeder/sitter doesn't turn up and the cat(s) run amok in the house, who'd know?
What's the situation with the keys to the property?? Who can have keys anyway according to the AST? If the pet minder turns up and fails to lock the property - what then??
The assumption of pets has been cats and dogs. Could there please be a definition of a pet for the purposes of landlord clarity?
Fish tanks are heavy weight items. For a new tenant request - what size tank is proposed? The weight of it fully filled is what? A landlord would have to know that the floors can take the iniital proposed weight. What happens if tenants buy a bigger tank without telling their landlord?
In addition to that, there's the introduction of a large water quantity into a property which isn't piped nor has a natural overflow. A landlord blindly accepting that - easily thinking fish are no problem - potentially has to manage a tank overfill, leakage or tank failure. Insurance covers water escape from pipes. If it's not piped, then what??
Don't forget that creatures in tanks aren't just fish! Do reptiles and tortoises count as pets? What about uncaged rodents? To what extent are tenants liable if an uncaged 'pet' chews cables? How are landlords to be compensated if the tenant cannot afford the repairs to the chewed cables??
Could the government please clarify for once - and for all - what the definition of a pet actually is??
The government hasn't thought through any or all of the unintended consequences of keeping a 'pet' in the PRS.
We need to have all the information available to us to make an informed decision on whether we can accept pets at all and what happens if the risk is imposed on us to our cost and detriment.
Please let us know who pays the price when it all goes horribly wrong.
Here ready and waiting to hear the government's answers to all the above and anything missed.

Kate Wood

9:53 AM, 13th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

I've three properties that share an outdoor space for bins and sheds, with a small area all the tenants use as a little city garden. No issues as far as sharing. If a new tenant requests a dog, I know one tenant who is a Muslim will have a problem with it. I know this because we've chatted about dogs before. I love them, his religion doesn't. I had a tenant years ago who was terrified of cats. Completely irrational but that's how she felt. So if I have to accept pets, or pets appear, whose rights do I accommodate?

Freda Blogs

12:12 PM, 13th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Kate Wood at 13/09/2023 - 09:53
Sounds like you have the perfect 'get-out' clause to say no to pet requests!

Jonathan Cocks

12:26 PM, 13th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Gennie Nash at 12/09/2023 - 19:26
that's a very interesting comment, which i had not considered. so is there anything you would suggest to protect the landlord and create clarity for the tenant re who pays for any damage made by the ill animal.?

should there be a separate deposit for animals paid up front
should there be a requirement the tenant pays more rent to cover additional insurance premiums
do we need a clause in AST s to clarify the responsibilities of both tenant and landlord?

Jonathan Cocks

12:34 PM, 13th September 2023, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by LordOf TheManor at 12/09/2023 - 19:46
great comments.
i too await Government comments.

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