Pet property damage – what do letting agents and landlords need to look out for?

As tenant demand for pets rises and the government aims to stop landlords from banning renters keeping animals, letting agents and landlords need to be vigilant in identifying property damage caused by pets.

According to No Letting Go, the UK’s largest provider of inventory services, by knowing what damage to look for, property professionals can ensure repairs are made before problems escalate while making relevant deductions from tenants’ deposits.

What are the most common types of pet property damage?

Alongside the obvious need for additional cleaning and banishing of animal odours, No Letting Go’s inventory experts have identified a range of specific issues agents and landlords should look out for if their tenants have pets.

These include cat flaps being fitted to doors and claw marks on doors, which are usually caused when dogs are excited to go out. Meanwhile, cats are more likely to be responsible for torn and frayed carpets at the bottom of stairs.

Landlords and agents also need to monitor for pet urine on the carpet which can seep through and damage the underlay if not dealt with properly.

Pet hairs are also commonly found on the back of curtains and blinds by inventory clerks carrying out property visits, No Letting Go reveals.

“As the demand for pet tenancies rises and the government aims to make it easier for renters to keep animals, agents and landlords need to have the measures in place to deal with the increased risk of property damage,” says Nick Lyons, Founder and CEO of No Letting Go.

“If managed effectively, allowing tenants to keep pets can encourage longer tenancies, increase demand for available properties and pave the way for higher average rents.”

“However, if pet tenancies are mishandled, landlords may have to foot the bill for thousands of pounds of repairs, while agents’ chances of retaining management of a property could be jeopardised,” he says.

Government plans to allow pets in rentals gather pace

Over recent months, the government has made it clear that it wants to make it easier for tenants to keep pets in rental properties.

The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill, which proposes to make it a right for tenants to have domestic animals in rental properties, is currently awaiting its second reading as it moves through Parliament.

Meanwhile, in January 2021, the government announced that it had rewritten its model standard tenancy agreement to include more ‘pet-friendly’ elements, making it easier for tenants to be able to keep ‘well-behaved’ pets.

“There are currently no rules to stop landlords from banning pets in their properties and they are not required to use the government’s model tenancy agreement,” adds Lyons.

“However, it’s clear we are moving towards a scenario where blanket bans on pets are no longer an option as the government looks to favour tenant-owning pets.”

“With this in mind, it’s time for letting agents and landlords to start preparing for a more pet-friendly PRS by making sure they have the right insurance in place, compile a detailed inventory and monitor damage through regular property inspections,” he says.

He says that the combination of a comprehensive inventory and regular inspections can help property professionals to prove damage caused by pets, as well as monitoring whether they can be deemed ‘well-behaved’.

“Having the necessary records and evidence of damage can make it easier for repairs and maintenance costs to be recouped from a tenant’s deposit at the end of a tenancy,” Lyons continues.

“There is no option to charge higher deposits for tenants with pets due to the Tenant Fees Act, so having a range of additional protective measures and procedures in place is absolutely vital to protect rental properties in the event that a tenant has pets,” he concludes.