Research shows most landlords have to spend hundreds of pounds repairing pet-damaged properties – and they won’t recover the cost.
According to trade body Propertymark and the National Association of Residential Landlords, more than three-quarters of landlords say tenant-owned pets have damaged their property, and more than one-in-half are left to pay the bill.
The research comes after the government announced new rules that grant tenants the right to request pets that landlords cannot refuse without valid reasons.
Investors warned that the change would saddle them with huge bills and further eat into profits.
Landlord Peter Howe, who owns about 40 properties in Yorkshire, said he had left with seven dogs after he repossessed the property when tenants stopped paying rent.
Forcing landlords to allow pets would only deter investors from staying in the industry, he said. “It’s another power that the landlord has over his own property,” he added.
“The kitchen was destroyed and their kennel was made of breeze blocks and left in the garden. The deposit did not cover the damage,” he added.
Only one in 10 landlords allow pets, the lowest rate in five years, according to rental platform Goodlord. Animals are a controversial issue because they can mean higher maintenance costs for landlords who can easily find pet-free tenants in the red-hot rental market. A third of the 537 landlords and letting agents surveyed by Propertymark said damage repairs cost more than £1,000.
Timothy Douglas of trade body Propertymark said the Tenant Fees Act 2019 restricted the willingness to rent to tenants with pets. This limits the maximum bond a landlord can hold to five weeks’ rent.
Mr Douglas said: “The main concern is the risk of damage that cannot be compensated. In some cases the property is not suitable for pets, or the lender will limit their buy-to-let mortgage.”
Activists have long called for stronger rights to protect pet ownership in the rental sector. Landlords will be banned from “unreasonably withholding consent” to prospective tenants with pets under rent reform.
The government has promised landlords will be able to require tenants to take out insurance to cover any potential losses, but details on how this will work in practice are unclear.
Mr Douglas said: “The details of how this will work are still vague. For example, what happens if a tenant cancels their policy without telling their landlord and then cannot make a claim?”
This month, Housing Minister Michael Gove announced broad reforms to give tenants more rights, including repealing Section 21 “no-fault evictions” and banning landlords from discriminating against tenants with pets.