Half of all the adults in the UK currently own a pet, but it's not always straightforward to find a pet-friendly rental home.
In fact, only around 7% of rental homes are advertised as suitable for furry (or scaly or feathered) friends.
Sometimes it's the law that actually forbids it: the lease may prevent pets living at the property through a 'no pets' clause (more on this later).
In other instances, landlords and letting agents may be hesitant to allow pets in because they have concerns that the property may not be suitable - and those reasons may be deemed valid.
The law states that:
It will not be unreasonable for the Landlord to withhold consent if there is a reasonable likelihood that the use proposed would: (b) cause a nuisance to the occupiers of neighbouring properties or significantly increase wear and tear to the Property.
However, if you are a responsible pet owner, consent for pets is now the default under the Model Tenancy Agreement.
You'll need to apply in writing to your landlord and you may be asked to add a bit extra to your deposit to cover any additional wear and tear.
Here's what the Model Tenancy Agreement says:
A Tenant must seek the prior written consent of the Landlord should they wish to keep pets or other animals at the Property.
A Landlord must not unreasonably withhold or delay a written request from a Tenant without considering the request on its own merits.
The Landlord should accept such a request where they are satisfied the Tenant is a responsible pet owner and the pet is of a kind that is suitable in relation to the nature of the premises at which it will be kept.
Consent is deemed to be granted unless the written request is turned down by a Landlord with good reason in writing within 28 days of receiving the request.
A Landlord is prohibited from charging a fee to a Tenant who wishes to keep pets or other animals at the Property.
Permission may be given on the condition that the Tenant pays an additional reasonable amount towards the deposit, but the deposit must not breach the deposit cap requirements under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019, which came into force on 1 June 2019, caps the refundable tenancy deposit charged by landlords and letting agents at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or 6 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.
So if you'd like to bring your pet into your rental property and it is legally possible, speaking with your landlord or letting agent and explaining how you're a responsible pet owner could go a long way.
Top tips for finding a rental home for you and your pet
1. Start planning early
The more time you give yourself, the better chance you'll have of finding a rental home that is not just pet-friendly, but also hits all your other criteria.
If you have a cat, you might want to make sure the property is away from a main road and has a cat flap.
For dog owners, making sure your new home is big enough and close to a park is likely to be a priority.
Crack on with your property search a good 8 weeks before you need to move out of your current home.
Consider expanding your search area or being flexible with the type of property you want to live in. This can increase your chances of finding a new place for you and your pet to call home.
Filter your search results by "pets allowed". You can also add keywords such as “park” or “quiet” to your search criteria.
2. Make a good case for your pet (and yourself as an owner)
If you’ve found a landlord that needs a bit of persuading about your pet, there are things you can do to put them at ease.
For example, provide them with your pet’s medical details, such as last vaccinations, flea and worming treatments and microchipping and neutering confirmation.
You can also pass on the contact information of your vet and someone who can look after your pet in the event of an emergency.
If you’ve previously rented, ask former landlords for references to prove that your pet has been well behaved and caused no issues at the property.
All of this will reassure prospective landlords that you are a responsible pet owner.
3. Have an open conversation about their concerns
There are a few reasons why a landlord might not be keen on pets in their property.
Under the new rules, they can say 'no' if they think the pet will cause a nuisance to neighbouring households or cause damage to the property.
An open conversation with the landlord or letting agent could help alleviate their concerns.
Be understanding of their concerns and perspective. They may have had irresponsible owners as tenants in the past, or have a specific reason why they do not want pets in their property.
And show willingness to cover the costs of any damage caused by your pet, however unlikely it may be. This is your legal responsibility anyway but it can help to show you are aware of the rules and understand their concerns.
4. Introduce your pet to your landlord
Another way to put your potential landlord’s mind at ease is to have them meet your pet in advance. This is usually most relevant with dogs.
The landlord will be able to see how your animal interacts with strangers and how well behaved they are.
If you're comfortable with it, you could invite the landlord to your current home to show how you live with your pet.
Meeting your dog can help the landlord see that they do not cause damage, smells or disruption for the neighbours.
5. Don’t keep a pet at your rental home without consent
You must seek the written consent of your landlord if you want to keep pets at a rental property.
Requests should be accepted in suitable properties where they are satisfied you are a responsible pet owner.
Legally, consent is granted unless the landlord provides good reason in writing within 28 days.
Landlords should only turn down a request if there is good reason to do so.
This might be having large pets in smaller homes where it could be impractical, or if they think the pet will cause damage or noise for the neighbours.
As a pet owner, you will be expected to make sure your pet does not become a nuisance to neighbours, and will also be legally responsible for repairing any undue damage caused to the property by your pet.
Always be upfront with your landlord about keeping pets in a property.
If they discover, through property inspections or complaints from neighbours, that you are keeping a pet without consent, you could find yourself in trouble.
This is a breach of contract which is grounds to start an eviction process.
Why a landlord might not permit pets
There are a variety of reasons why a landlord may not want cats, dogs or other animals in a property they are letting.
There's a 'no pets' clause in the lease
In some leasehold properties, it can actually be that the law forbids it.
The lease may include a 'no pets' clause, preventing anyone that lives there - a buyer or a renter - from keeping a pet in the property.
There may be ways to get around the clause, including:
Asking your landlord to negotiate a Deed of Variation with the freeholder
Asking your landlord to request the freeholder waives the no pets clause in writing
But in both of these cases, your landlord will need to bring in the services of a solicitor, as breaching the 'no pets' clause without permission can result in eviction from the property.
The pet may be deemed unsuitable for the property
It may simply be that the property is not suitable for your pet.
If you have one or two large dogs that needs regular exercise and access to a large garden, a small one-bed flat away from local green spaces might not be deemed appropriate.
Similarly, if other tenants within the building are allergic to animals and you have a communal hallway or shared areas, this could mean the property is unsuitable.
The pet may damage the property
If a pet owner is irresponsible, damage can occur to floors, woodwork, wiring and furniture. The cost of this kind of damage can make renting to pet owners extremely off-putting.
Pet smells are another concern for landlords. And if animals aren’t regularly treated for fleas, a property can quickly become infested, which would require expert treatment.
The pet may disturb neighbouring tenants
Animals can also cause noise nuisance and make mess that could lead to complaints from neighbours.
In shared properties, landlords may also be reluctant to consider pets in case they disturb existing or future renters.
Why a pet owner can make a good tenant
It can be well worth a landlord taking the chance on a tenant with a pet, as they may be more likely to get settled and stay put for a long time.
The hassle and cost of finding new tenants often can be a problem for landlords, so finding a renter who is likely to want to stay for the long haul is a massive benefit.
As rental properties that allow pets are more difficult to come by, a pet owner may stay longer and will look after their home so that they can renew their tenancy agreement.
How to reduce stress when moving house with pets
Once you’ve found a rental property that accepts pets, you’ll need to work out the best way to move them into your new home and get them settled.
For animals who are territorial and don’t understand what’s happening, moving can sometimes prove so upsetting they become ill or even run away.
But there are measures you can take before, during, and after the move that should smooth out the process.
1. Visit the vet
Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and you have all relevant records and certificates. If your pet needs medication for any existing conditions, ensure you’re stocked up before moving day.
It’s also worth asking the vet about getting some mild sedatives if your pet will be distressed by travelling. They may also be able to recommend a new veterinary practice in the area you’re moving to.
Finally, if your visit is close to your move date, have your pet’s microchip updated with your new home address. If they make a run for it when you arrive, it could make things a lot easier.
2. Don’t stray from routine
Dogs and cats are both creatures of habit and moving house can be very disrupting. It might be tricky with so much going on, but try to keep as much of your pet’s normal routine in place as possible.
For example, if you usually shut your cat or dog in the kitchen at night, continue to do this in your new kitchen. Keep the position of the bed or basket as like-for-like as possible and make sure you don't change, or even wash, bedding, toys or blankets near to the move.
Cats should ideally be kept indoors for around two weeks. But if you have a dog and are moving locally, try keep your walking route the same where possible.
3. Get pet carriers out early
A few weeks leading up to the move, get out your pet’s basket or carrier and leave it somewhere in plain sight.
This will give your cat or dog some time to adjust to being around it, as just the sight and smell of the carrier can be enough to panic them as they’ll associate it with the vet.
If you wait until move day when things are disruptive enough already, it will cause additional and unnecessary stress for your pet.
4. Issue a temporary ID tag
Ideally, you will have already updated your pet's microchip details with your new address at the local vet. But, even if this is the case, be sure to attach a temporary tag to your pet's collar with these details, alongside your mobile number, on moving day.
Hopefully you won't need to rely on this but it's good to have a safety net in place.
Keep in mind that cats are prone to return to a familiar address for weeks, or even months, after a house move. In this case, it's also a good idea to talk to whoever's moving into your old home and warn then in advance.
Give them your mobile number and perhaps even a picture of your cat so they can keep an eye out.
5. Consider a cattery or kennels
You might want to book your pet into a cattery or kennels for the day of the move (perhaps even one or two days either side), saving them the stress and you the worry.
If this your plan, make sure you book in plenty of time, especially over summer when they’re at their busiest. You may want to choose a venue that’s nearest to the house you are going to, rather than the one you’re leaving behind.
However, keep in mind that catteries and kennels can also be a stressful experience, so if you have family or friends that are happy to play host instead, that could be preferable.
Another alternative for your pets is to book them on their own holiday, which entails sending your dog to board with a local host family. These professional dog sitting services are tailored specifically for your furry friends and offer a happy medium between kennelling or depending on family and friends.
6. Make plans for your pet's journey
Allocate a designated ‘pet’ room in your old home during the day of the move. It should be secure, quiet and undisturbed. It’s a good idea to hang a sign on the door to that effect. Then only move your pet at the last possible moment.
Dog and cat carriers can be simply strapped into the car with a seat belt. But moving fish and reptiles is a trickier task as they can be sensitive to changes in temperature or motion. Make sure you seek advice on any specialist containers or equipment you’ll need.
Factor in toilet stops for long distances and, if you are breaking up the journey with an overnight stay, don’t forget to check that your pet will be accepted there.
7. Settle your pet into their new space
If you have a fish or reptile tank, setting it up when you arrive at your new home should be a priority. You’ll need to keep an eye on them too for the next few days.
Keep cats and dogs confined to one or two rooms and surrounded by familiar belongings. This will give them a chance to familiarise themselves with their new environment – and you the time to pet-proof the rest of the property.
Once things calm down, allow your pet to explore their new pad slowly. Give them plenty of attention and treats so they’re reassured it’s a positive and safe place to be.
If you haven’t updated your pet’s microchip already, get it sorted now. Any local vet will do the job.
They won’t like it, but outdoor cats should be kept inside for around two weeks. This will reduce the prospect of them trying to return to their previous home. Dogs should be taken out on gradually longer walks so they can get to grips slowly with their new patch.
8. Introduce your pet to the neighbours
Knocking on your new neighbour’s door with your cat or dog is the perfect icebreaker.
With any luck they'll be pet lovers themselves, and will keep an eye out for them in the future.