Landlords urged to watch out for signs of hidden pets

Rising number of 'undeclared' pets living in rented accomodation

UK landlords need to be aware that more residential tenants are hiding the fact that they have pets despite this not being allowed as part of their tenancy agreement.

The boom in the rental market has led to a large number of former home owners with pets looking for accommodation and many prospective tenants find it difficult to find landlords that will accept pets in their properties.

The result has been a rise in the number of ‘undeclared’ pets living in rented accommodation, with the landlord or agent, often none the wiser, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

It has found that there are often tell tale signs of pet damage to property and landlords and agents need to be vigilant about regularly checking their properties for signs of pets.

Many tenants will work hard to hide any signs of pets in advance of a visit from a landlord and agent. So landlords and agents need to be vigilant in looking for evidence, the most obvious being pet hairs on sofas, chairs and on curtain linings, claw marks/scratches on doors and door frames, table legs and kitchen cupboards, fluffing or threadpulls on carpets, especially at door ways and yellow patches on the lawn.

‘We have seen all kinds of pet damage over the years, some amounting to very expensive repairs. More recently, we have seen a trend of outside pets becoming inside pets, especially rabbits,’ said Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC.

‘They can create expensive damage to cables, doors and frames and furniture from chewing. Many tenants will go to great lengths to conceal a pet from an agent or landlord as they are well aware they are breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement,’ she explained.

‘Cats seem to cause the most problem in a property because they love sharpening their claws on every surface. A recent check out concerned a flat with leather sofas. There were deep claw marks and pulls all around the base of both sofas, the back seams had been ripped open and cat hairs were matted under the seat cushions. The furniture was damaged well beyond repair and the tenant did not have permission to have a cat or any other pet in the flat. The result was that the tenant had to pay for two new sofas as they were both almost new at the start of the tenancy just six months previously,’ she explained.

‘Our advice to landlords and agents is to be vigilant about checking the inside and outside of properties for pet damage,’ she added.

The AIIC also advises agents and landlords to make regular visits to the property, so that they can check the property over for damage on both the inside and the outside. It says it is worth doing things like checking under sofa cushions as tenants often forget to vacuum there and to check under mats, tables and beds for pet stains.

Tell tale scratches can be found on furniture, doors, frames and kitchen cupboards. It is also worth looking for thread pulls and fluffing on carpets and rugs, especially in door ways and to check cable for damage from chewing, a favourite of pet rabbits.

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