PET OWNERS TAKE DESPERATE MEASURES TO RENT WITH THEIR PETS

26 October 2011

Dogs Trust research reveals the shocking dilemmas facing pet owners

How far would you go to find somewhere to rent with your pet? Would you move to a different town away from friends and family or live in a caravan for up to a year? Research conducted by Dogs Trust for its ‘Lets with Pets’ scheme shows that this is the dilemma facing many pet owners who struggle to find pet friendly rented accommodation. Of the 5,695 UK pet owners surveyed, 1 in 3 could not find a suitable property. While non pet owners spend an average of 50 days* looking for a rental property, this research shows that over half (53%) of people with pets searched for two months to over a year.

Lets with Pets was set up by Dogs Trust in 2009 to help owners find rented accommodation with their pets, working with lettings agents and private landlords to encourage them to consider pets in their properties. This research was conducted to gauge how people go about finding pet friendly rental properties and discover more about their experiences of doing so.

In the past five years Dogs Trust has seen a 56% increase in the number of people handing in dogs to its 17 rehoming centres across the UK due to housing problems. With steep property prices forcing more people into rented accommodation, and prospective tenants facing stiff competition for pet friendly properties, Dogs Trust is concerned that more people may be forced to face the agonising decision to give up their pet altogether, or even have them put to sleep.

Clare Kivlehan, who runs the Lets with Pets scheme at Dogs Trust, explains:

"Since we launched Lets with Pets we've seen a marked increase in the number of people contacting us for advice. We have signed up over 100 lettings agencies across the UK as campaign supporters, but our research shows that the majority are still not giving pet owners the chance they deserve. We’re campaigning for lettings agents and landlords to take a ‘Pets Considered’ approach rather than rejecting all pets. We’d like people to be able to search easily on property websites for suitable options rather than having to make individual enquiries and we’re keen to hear from any agencies interested in becoming campaign supporters.”

It seems owners are often forced to keep pets secret or hide them from a landlord. Others have gone to more extreme lengths to stay living with their pets:

  • 38-year-old Lorraine from Northumberland says: “My husband, son and I lived in a caravan for 3 months because we couldn’t find somewhere to rent that would allow our three lovely dogs”
  • 32 year old, Gillian Miller (pictured above) from Glasgow struggled to find a two bedroom property to rent where her dog would be allowed. She and her partner had no option but to rent a much larger property than they needed, costing £500 more per month than they wanted to pay. She says: “It seems that the places that let you keep pets are either very run down to such an extent that the landlord doesn't care about the property or they are large family homes which may be unaffordable to someone who can’t afford to rent a large space. I found searching for a pet friendly property quite stressful because there is only a small percentage of properties on the market.”

Almost half of UK households own a pet**, but this Let with Pets research indicates that 47% of pet owners who searched for a suitable property through a lettings agency found them to be unhelpful. Of those who chose not to use a lettings agency, 29% said that this was because they felt that they would be unable to help due to their pets.

Clare Kivlelan adds: "The Lets with Pets scheme gives pet owners practical advice to help them find suitable properties. Over half of respondents (59%) said that they would pay a higher deposit to rent with their pets, giving landlords peace of mind. While 75% would pay for carpets and soft furnishings to be professionally cleaned when they move out, all of which suggests they could make responsible tenants."

Dorian Gonsalves, MD of Belvoir, a national lettings chain that has signed up to the Lets with Pets scheme, comments:

“At Belvoir our offices frequently receive requests from people looking to rent with their pets, so for us it made business sense to give our offices the opportunity to sign up to the Lets with Pets scheme. It has helped us to open up a dialogue with landlords and tenants on this issue and address the misconception that all pets are messy, noisy and cause damage to properties.”

“We’ve found that if landlords stipulate various conditions in their pet clause this sets the boundaries from the start. It’s concerning to think that people may opt to sift through private adverts to find a property and dismiss lettings agencies altogether for fear of them not being able to help. This means that tenants may rent poorer quality properties without the stringent safety checks agents have in place. We hope to help many more pets and their owners find homes together under the Lets with Pets scheme."

For more information or advice please visit www.letswithpets.org.uk.

 

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