Renting and Pets

One of the many small indignities of renting is how many landlords don’t want you to have pets.

When you see this from their point of view it’s perfectly reasonable – while the tenants get all of the furly love and companionship, the landlord picks up the risk of property damage – sure it’s probably fine, but why take the risk? There are plenty of other, pet-less, people out there to do business with. This doesn’t really explain why 10% of landlords in 2008 were banning goldfish but it’s possible these were maliciously throwing themselves against walls to cause damp.

This makes it much harder to find where to live if you already have a pet. A 2011 Dogs Trust survey found that:

  • Pet owners can take up to seven times longer to rent a home compared to non pet-owners
  • 1 in 3 pet owners could not find a suitable property
  • 47% of pet owners who used a lettings agency found them to be ‘unhelpful’

To own a pet is to opt-in to making the process of renting even more difficult – so why bother? Even if your current landlord is fine with it, how long until you move again? Finding a new place to live regularly is already such a slog, why would you want to make it harder?

The fundamental problem is that landlords have something we desperately need – a place to live. Until there’s less people going after each rented house they can continue to dictate terms over the small but important of what ‘home’ is allowed to mean to us – can we hang things on the wall? Can we keep a goldfish? How about something that’ll eat a goldfish?

If you are desperate for companionship read on. Due to a never repealed part of the Allotments Act 1950 contracts can’t prevent renters from keeping rabbits or chickens (you don’t have to eat them) – so if either of those appeals the law is on your side.

That said the more cynical of you might wonder how much that matters. Of course, the fact that something’s legal doesn’t mean your landlord can’t kick you out for it – so even legal rabbits and chickens aren’t risk free. To do something about this have a look at Shelter’s campaign to stop retaliatory evictions.

The safest option is to watch kittens over the internet – but it’s really not the same.

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