When you’re renting, it’s tough to make the place you live feel like home.
You’re not allowed to paint or hang pictures (unless you’re sneaky with command hooks), your landlord keeps popping round to check you haven’t wrecked the place, and, worst of all, it’s rare that you’re able to have a pet.
That’s a real bummer, and it’s something SpareRoom is hoping to change.
The flatsharing site has launched a new think tank designed to challenge landlords on the idea that renters shouldn’t be allowed cats or dogs in their properties, arguing that being able to have pets makes renters better longterm tenants.
They’ve done a load of research to find out why landlords are reluctant to allow pets, so that they can work to change things.
Of the 1,261 landlords surveyed, 69% said they don’t allow pets in their properties, with the majority worried about the smell or damage a pet might cause.
‘I think landlords are quite cautious people,’ said property expert Kate Faulkner. ‘They’re always worried about money and one of their biggest fears is damage by tenants. If you’ve got 10 people chasing to rent your property, why would you risk taking someone with a pet?
‘Landlords want a tenant to be in their property for as long as possible, with as little fuss as possible and they want their rent each month, they don’t want anything to compromise this or any pet related damage to eat into their profit.’
All of which makes sense if you think about it: anything that could cause damage to the property is going to be a big ‘no’ for a landlord.
But SpareRoom is hoping to challenge that fear, suggesting that damage can happen regardless of a pet’s presence – a visiting toddler could cause quite a bit of wreckage, whereas a cat with a proper scratching post can leave behind no evidence of ever being there.
From their survey, SpareRoom found that 88% of pet owners have never had any complaints and that their pets have never caused damage to a property.
One potential solution to relieve that fear would be an increased deposit for renters with pets, to cover any damage if it happens.
This would mean that landlords don’t have to panic about any wreckage, and that they have an incentive to rent to pet-owners.
This plan might not work out, though, considering that there’s currently a bill going through Parliament that will cap deposits to a maximum of six weeks rent.
So perhaps a slightly bumped up rent could work. Only 17% of pet-owners surveyed said they’d been asked to pay more rent on the basis of having a pet, so clearly that’s an underutilised approach.
There are so many mental health benefits to owning a pet, and that’s especially important considering the levels of loneliness in young renters.
We need to work towards a solution that benefits renters and makes landlords feel comfortable renting property to pets and their owners. Right now, 21% of pet owners say they’re keeping pets a secret from their landlords, so clearly the current system isn’t working.
SpareRoom is working with experts to figure out the best way to allow renters to have pets, through policy change and a change in attitudes. That’ll include making sure only responsible pet-owners are allowed, and the wellbeing of the pet and renter will be considered alongside the rules for a property.
Here’s hoping landlords and renters can work together to get pets allowed. Who could turn down a sweet little kitten (who promises not to scratch up those hardwood floors)?