SpareRoom launches think tank for pets

The first ever pet think tank has launched to address the lack of pet-friendly rental accommodation in the UK.

The pet think tank is fronted by a team of pet-loving charities, landlord representatives, economists, vets and property pros. It was formed by SpareRoom in a bid to generate new ideas and policies that could encourage landlords to accept more pets in rented properties.

Research by the think tank for pets suggests that the UKs landlords could earn extra income if they let pets in their properties – not to mention reducing the number of pets given up for adoption.

The potential benefits of allowing more pets in rented properties aren’t limited to increased income for landlords, but also include improved physical and mental wellbeing for tenants and even a potential reduction in homelessness.

In the process of developing ideas to address the lack of pet-friendly rented accommodation, the think tank members studies original research by SpareRoom, conducted among tenants and landlords.

In the report, findings include, 78% of tenants said they have struggled to find rented accommodation that will allow their pet(s) to live with them. This has resulted in 21% of tenants keeping a pet in their property without their landlord’s knowledge – and breeching the terms of their rental contract in the process.

The report found that over two thirds (69%) of landlords said they wouldn’t allow pets in their properties. The cited smell (57%), potential damage to the property (55%) and concerns they won’t be trained (37%) as their main reasons for not allowing pets in their properties.

Among the think tank’s initial ideas and suggestions to convince landlords to accept pets are:

  • Working to get damage by pets covered, both in landlord insurance policies and by tenants
  • Tenants agreeing to sign a contract to say that they’d pay for any damages their pet was responsible for
  • Charging a subsidy for pets on top of a tenant’s normal monthly rent
  • Creating a pet policy agreement between landlords and renters, which could be easily downloaded. The template would include conditions such as ‘regular landlord inspections’ to check that the property is free of mess and damage, and to check in with neighbours that they’re happy and have no issues with the pet
  • Another key point raised by members of the Think Tank committee was that they’d like to see a set policy that all social housing providers must take pets.

Matt Hutchinson, Communications Director for SpareRoom, said: “With more of us renting our homes it’s vital we have a conversation about what that means for quality of life. We know that allowing pets into rented homes can be particularly beneficial – and in more ways than people might think. Pets can be a source of higher rental income for landlords, but they can also improve the wellbeing of tenants, reduce the number of pets given up for rehoming or, worse abandoned, and they can have an impact on reducing homelessness.

“Ultimately, there’s no reason tenants shouldn’t be able to live with pets, subject to certain relevant conditions and checks being in place. By finding the obstacles and removing them, as well as seeing the positives, not just the negatives, we should be able to make it much easier for people to have a pet, whether they own their home or not.”