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Renting With Pets

Why do Landlords say 'no pets'?

Some pets damage properties.  Every pet owner says their pet doesn't.  How can a prospective landlord know if you are telling the truth?
The honest to goodness truth is that he can't.
One of the biggest concerns a landlord might have is that the property may require a higher level of cleaning after a tenant with a pet leaves.  It is a fact that houses can smell, they can be flea-infested and the carpets could have absolutely anything in them.  This does no apply to all pets, but it is a risk the landlord has to take into account.
For this reason, landlord may insist that you pay a 'bigger than usual' bond/deposit to cover these potential costs - or insist on professional cleaning and/or flea treatments (at your expense) at the end of the tenancy.

Does 'no pets' mean 'no pets'?

It is always worth asking if your pet would be accepted - a caged pet like a hamster is much more likely to be accepted than a Pit-Bull.  Following Office of Fair Trading advice, most tenancy agreements will say that pets are not accepted without the landlords written agreement - which will not be unreasonably witheld.  See page 68 of this document.  This is merely guidance though, it is not the law.  The OFT believe that a 'blanket ban' on pets would be an unfair contract term under the "Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations" (UTCCR).   The UTCCR is based on EU legislation, and a similar case was brought in Spain (also an EU country) where such a clause was found to be unfair - as it would have even prevented the tenant having a goldfish.  Some landlords may, of course, consider a goldfish unacceptable http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/85369/goldfish-bowl-sparks-flintshire-house-blaze.aspx

How can I find a property?

You need to start by accepting that you are not regarded by landlords and agencies as 'ideal tenant' material despite the fact that 43% of households are pet owners.  Landlords with unfurnished properties tend to be more relaxed about pets than those with furnished properties.
A letting agent will deal with hundreds of landlords and the majority of them will not accept pets as a matter of course - but some of them will. So you need to telephone each agent in your town 2 or 3 times a week to see if one of their pet-friendly landlords has had a suitable property come free. If they say "we'll phone you when something comes in" ignore it because they won't (see above). Pet friendly properties are so scarce they get let very quickly - so calling once a week won't be enough, something might have come and gone in between your phone calls.

If you don't want to go through an agency, you may find private landlords in your local paper, free-ads or these websites - but again, check regularly because suitable properties will be let very quickly.
http://www.spareroom.co.uk/flatshare/search.pl? (select other search options)
In any other property search website you may find the search Town "Pets allowed" -"no pets" gives a selection of suitable properties.

Can I improve my chances?

Yes.  It is all a matter of reducing the perceived risk to the landlord.  A reference from your current/previous landord stating that your pets have caused no problems will help.  What will help even more is if you can offer to pay a larger than normal deposit.