Case Studies

The Big Question – do you allow tenants with pets?

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

It’s an emotive subject for landlords and tenants: pets in rental properties. 

Research has shown permission to keep pets is the number one perk a tenant would pay more rent for – ahead of benefits such as high-speed internet and parking spaces.

And last year Labour mooted plans that would force all landlords to accept pets. 

But with the Tenants’ Fees Act banning landlords from charging higher deposits for pet-friendly tenancies, many landlords are wary about allowing animals into their properties, due to the increased risk of damage and potential clean-up bills.

With this in mind the RLA is asking what you think? 

Do you allow tenants with pets – and if not, why not? 

And what do you think of plans to make pet-friendly tenancies compulsory? 

Let us know your thoughts for a new series in our members’ magazine: The Big Question.

Each edition we will look at a topical issue to find out more about your experiences with your tenants in your properties.

If you are interested in contributing to the feature please email  , respond via our social media channels @RLA_News or the Residential Landlords Association Facebook page or use the comments section below.

We look forward to hearing from you.


About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • Hi.
    I let 2 small houses and 2 leasehold flats.
    Both flats are in blocks where the freeholder does not allow pets so if I gave my tenants permission I would then be in breach of my own lease. I recently cleaned up after grubby tenants in 1 flat and found large quantities of short silky grey hair/fur in the carpet which I presume to be from an illicit cat. The checkout clerk did not notice this so I have been unable to charge the deposit for a steam clean and don’t want to bear the cost myself as I am already paying for other stuff the clerk failed to notice. I have used ny Vax and I am crossing my fingers that any cat had no fleas and that the next tenant is not allergic.
    I once did allow tenants to keep a cat in a house but regretted it when they left as the cat had shredded the stair carpet. I had to replace that carpet but was not allowed to charge the tenant the full amount as the original carpet had not been new.
    The restriction on the size of tenant deposits means that landlords are now even less likely to be able to cover the cost of damage and infestations.
    Existing tenants have asked about dogs. They claim they will acquire a well-behaved, well-trained small quiet animal but there is no guarantee that they won’t end up with a puppy that pees on floors, chews cupboards and drives the neighbours mad with barking!

    • Three points. A lonely dog will bark! A lonely dog will pee on the carpet if it is left in all day without a chance to empty its bladder outdoors. A lonely dog may chew furniture, doors etc. I have personal experience of all three – the last dog,, which damaged a door, was my own, when I was living in a flat, but needed a guard dog for the area overall. He sat by the door waiting for me to come back – and chewed the nearest thing. Boredom, anxiety, who knows. I couldn’t blame him. But I had to pay for a complete new door.
      As for”acquiring a well-trained, well-behaved dog”, most people today don’t have the interest or the experience to train a dog. If a dog is walking ahead of its owner (usually on an extending lead) the dog is in charge, not the owner!! A well-trained dog will be walking to heel, between the owner and the the wall or fence, and not on the traffic side. Cats: will scratch furniture, carpets, wallpaper. Often create smell. Again, training – to use cat-tray/litter.
      It’s just not fair to keep animals indoors all day – so they are “so pleased to see you” when you get home! Of course they are!

  • Making allowance of pets mandatory would cause a lot of problems – not least because not all properties would be suitable for all pets.
    I allow pets on request and so far I’ve never refused in nearly 20 years. The closest I’ve come was a young lady wanting a rabbit – my first response was to ask if she’d considered all the ramifications (males spraying, scope for lingering smells into carpets etc). She decided on her own that it perhaps wasn’t a good idea.
    I’ve had a few cats over the years, but no requests for dogs.

  • We have three rented properties, and recently have been refusing pets in new lets, because of a bad experience we had with tenants who, unknown to us, kept a dog that was shut in all day while they were at work, poor thing. The problem didn’t become apparent until the next tenants complained about the smell when they turned on the central heating, but we had returned the deposit to the previous tenants many months previously. The very new carpets and underlay had to be replaced, after we took them up to inspect them. However, I also have sympathy with pet-loving tenants, and we have another tenant who is delighted with the bargain we have struck with him – he keeps three dogs and the floor covering is all vinyl, but that’s what he wants. I actually agree with Labour’s policy on this, because we want our tenants to feel happy in their home, as would any good landlord. There are actually too many awful landlords out there, who probably would probably never come near the RLA’s good practice guides. We decided to refuse pets not because we don’t like pets, but because it’s too difficult to raise the deposit to match the additional significant risk. But also, a blanket ban on pets is too ham-fisted, because other types of pets may give no damage problems. I see nothing wrong in letting landlords strike deals with pet owners, which may involve increased rent, significant additional deposits, or whatever.

  • I am surprised and disgusted that anybody posting here could be for the Labour Party’s policy on this. The landlord owns the house and decides what goes on…FULL STOP.
    I would not allow any pets in my properties as the havok they can cause would not be covered unless a significant “pets’ deposit” could be levied.

    • I have to say that Dr Simmons’ attitude towards tenant rights is a good example of the need for further legislation to protect them. Does he perhaps feel the same way about Gas Safety checks, EPC legislation, and so on?

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