Research from the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association shows that in 2012, 48 per cent of UK households had at least one pet. This is the equivalent of 13 million households, many of which will be located in rental properties around the nation.
Figures like these almost single-handedly refute the concept that pets must be a landlord’s worst nightmare. While pet owners would love the chance to be able to buy a property that can meet their companions’ requirements, factors like finance or not being settled in a particular location could be getting in the way.
That’s why they’ll turn to the rental market in order to get something as close to their dream property as possible.
As an estate agent or letting agent, it’s your job to find properties that will not only house pets, but ensure they can be well looked after during their stay. When it comes to arranging viewings for pet owners, here are some of the things worth considering…
It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at just how many agents fail to check whether the landlord of the property is looking at actually taking on pet owners. For some it’s a resounding ‘No!’ and with that, a trek back to the drawing board, but there should be a fair few property owners who are willing to accept cats, dogs and other household animals.
If they seemed unsure when you ask them then it might be worth checking with the neighbours to see if they don’t mind an animal bouncing around. It’s within the landlord’s best interests to get people into their property, but they won’t be the ones hearing dog barking at three in the morning. Check with all the relevant parties before you start to arrange viewings.
So the property takes in pets; you now need to find out just how accommodating it can be for the furry friend in question.
Detached homes are ideal for housing pets, simply because there’s no-one on the other side of the wall. There’s less chance of a dog’s bark or cat’s footsteps waking the neighbour up in the middle of the night, which is great for all parties. Semi-detached houses are fine so long as the neighbour doesn’t mind, but try and stay clear of flats – especially those that are not on the ground floor. The noise of footsteps will only move down to the other flats if they’re not made on ground level.
It’s unlikely that the landlord will be able spot aspects of their property that will be good for pet owners, so you need to make this your own responsibility. Have the homeowner take you round each room and try and spot pet-friendly features. A sizeable gap between two sofas could be useful for positioning a dog bed, while that high table in the dining room would create a perfect space for the hamster cage. Try to spot anything in the property that the animal could damage, too, like a table leg asking to be chewed or a sofa that could be clawed. It might be worth asking the would-be tenant to sign a waiver saying they’ll make good on any damage, or even adding a bit extra to the security deposit as compensation.
Take down as much as you can before venturing out into the garden, which is sure to be the most important feature. Dog owners in particular love being able to open the door and let their pet out into the fresh air. It’s a place for them to run, do their business and let off some steam without having to walk for the privilege. More often than not, the garden sells the house.
When it comes to the viewing itself, it’s best not to get too carried away with the property’s suitability for pets. Don’t forget you’re selling the home to a family, so focusing too heavily on the pet’s needs could cause you to miss out on several features for the people that actually pay the rent – the humans.
Just use whatever you’ve found as incentives for renting with this particular landlord. Perhaps include your pet features at the bottom of the run-down of each room; advertising them as an attractive extra rather than a key selling point. That’s until you get out to the garden, which is where you can really afford to show off.
After this, you might want to warn the pet owners about the implications of damage caused by their companions. Families have a tendency to underestimate the likelihood of this happening, which makes the discovery of a torn up sofa or a stained carpet even worse. Ask the landlord for their rules and ensure they make their way across to the prospective tenants.
So just to recap: ask for the landlord’s permission, gather what information you can about the home’s suitability for pets and advertise each feature in a subtle manner.