Discussion: Should landlords allow more cats into their homes?
As the number of tenants in the private rented sector continues to grow, so do the demands for pet ownership in the sector. Highlighting this demand, the charity Cats Protection has launched its Purrfect Landlords campaign, which includes example pet clauses for tenants and further guidance for landlords on making their properties more suitable for cats.
As part of its campaign, the charity will be offering free guidance via the microsite and a range of resources to support landlords to provide more homes to tenants with cats. The NLA has been working with Cats Protection to ensure the guidance and tenancy clauses are suitable for landlords.
Cats Protection found blanket ‘no-pet’ policies (only 42% of private housing allows cats) mean that landlords are missing out on a large pool of potential tenants, including those who may be more likely to settle down with their pets and value a rented property as a long-term home. Unsurprisingly, the charity cites issues over finding cat friendly housing as one of the top five reasons that cats are handed into their adoption shelters over the past 12 months.
Accessibility issues & NLA research
The NLA has previously done some research on this with our members and the results align with figures presented by Cat’s Protection, with over half (55%) were unwilling to allow tenants to keep pets in their properties:
Of those that were unwilling to allow pets, 41% of landlords cited the main reason as potential property damage, with other concerns such as flea infestation and blanket bans by letting agents featuring prominently:
The answers usually given to the risk of pet-related property damage is to increase the security deposit taken or ask for a pet reference. Alternatively, clauses can be inserted into the tenancy agreement such as one requiring the tenant to reimburse the landlord for any damage to fixtures and fittings.
According to the charity, another clause to encourage best practice cat clauses can then be simply added to existing tenancy agreements requiring cats to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. This helps to ensure that cats are in good health and unlikely to cause any issues.
According to Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations: “More and more people are renting their homes either by choice or necessity, yet very few rented properties accept cats. This means tenants are missing out on being able to own a cat, while landlords may be losing out on attracting responsible and settled tenants.”
“Becoming a cat-friendly landlord means advertising properties as ‘pets considered’ which ensures landlords stay in control and can make a decision once they’ve met their potential tenant.
Perceptions vs reality
The charity’s research suggests significant divergence between the perceptions of landlords who don’t allow pets and the reports from landlords that do. Unsurprisingly, the most common concerns of landlords were damages (62%) and flea infestations (34%), but the research highlighted that in the experience of landlords who do let to cats, only 17% reported damages and only 2% reported flea infestations.
Furthermore, as well as resulting in longer tenancies, the benefits can be considerable for private tenants who are able to own cats, with 94% reporting that owning a cat has a positive impact on their life, and cat friendly landlords reporting the following impacts upon their tenants:
- 85% said they improve tenant’s mental health
- 83% said they keep tenants company
- 78% said they give tenants something to nurture and care for
- 61% reported it is good for a family/children to have a pet.
What should landlords look for when taking on a cat?
The charity advises a responsible and reasonable policy on cat-ownership should require cats to be neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and treated for parasites such as fleas, as well as setting a limit on the number of cats that can be kept.
Asking for a pet reference from a previous landlord is a great way to find out more about the cat and whether there have been issues in the past affecting the private rented property. More than half (58%) of tenants who own cats say they’d be happy to obtain a pet reference from a previous landlord if required.
For more sceptical landlords, the guidance suggests that tenants can write their own pet CV, which would outline the steps they take to look after the cat as well as dates of vet appointments.
The provides further advice and guidance for landlords and tenants, featuring example tenancy clauses and Q&As.
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