Landlords, tenants and pets

Don't work with young people or pets. But do let your home out to them.

Being a landlord has changed. Today, if you're letting out a property to more than two unrelated people (so, to three young professionals for example), you'll need a House of Multiple Occupation licence. And these don't come cheap, a four-bed house in Southwark comes in at just over a £1,000 a year.

This has created a stir in the lettings market. The amount of three-plus bedroom homes to let to professionals or students has dropped dramatically as landlords avoid HMO levies. If you can organise an HMO licence, you'll find your property more in demand than ever.

Tenants who are related to each other can rent a home without the landlord getting an HMO licence, so families now have more choice. But this sliver of the lettings market is conversely, the smallest. Most families prefer to buy if they are able. It is the young professionals and student demographic that need rental housing in larger numbers. If you are a landlord, it's worth becoming acquainted with HMO licencing and deciding if you'd like to take the plunge. By being flexible, you're more likely to get more enquiries, rent your place out sooner and get higher offers.

What about pets?
There's no doubt that pets are a controversial area for many landlords. Tenants with pets have a hard time finding somewhere that will accept them, making this is a very niche market. If you decide to be pet-friendly, you're likely to secure tenants who will stay on for longer.

Damage-proof your tenancy
Because we know from experience that tenants with pets are more likely to stay put, you can compare your cleaning and decorating costs between say, two or three sets of tenants and one. In this light, a pet-owning tenant is cheaper to maintain.

If you're letting out a leasehold home, you must read the lease and make sure there isn't a clause that disallows pets.

Get a good pet insurance policy in place, then damage is covered. You'll be surprised at how many policies there are and how affordable it is. Follow these tips to protect your property:

  1. Ask for a larger deposit.It's common to ask for an extra two weeks' deposit if you're allowing pets to move in

  2. Get a pet reference! You can ask for the previous landlord to supply one and do ask the pet's owner, in writing, about their pet's behaviour and about any damage they may have previously caused

  3. Make sure your insurance policy covers pets or get specialist pet insurance.

  4. Include extra terms in the tenancy agreement. You could insist on carpets and upholstery being professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy, for example. You could also ask for a longer tenancy agreement, say one that lasts for two years.

By making yourself flexible to tenants, you are more likely to attract more tenants, faster and keep them on.