If landlords are worried about pet owners’ rental security, they should reconsider

It was thought that the competitiveness of Sydney’s market for rental housing had increased the difficulty. This is because it gives real estate agents more tenants to choose from. Some households were even offered housing as a reward for getting rid of their pets. This led to feelings of insecurity about renting and stress for participants who wanted to or had to move.

Compromises on cost, location, and quality

In in-depth interviews with households, we asked them how they located their current rental home. The families explained that the long list of rental properties disappeared when a “pet-friendly filter” was applied to popular property search sites.

A widespread belief was that pet-friendly advertising was inferior to housing that didn’t allow pets. Many people described making compromises in terms of property cleanliness and quality. Some deliberately chose less desirable properties in order to increase their chances of success.

One participant said:

They don’t care about what happens to the animals. They’ll probably pull them down eventually.

Another explanation:

The properties were all pretty rundown and disgusting. Bathrooms that were dark and dingy were a common sight. Houses that have not had any paint applied or other work done in the last 20-30 years.

The location of the property and its cost were also compromised. This led to housing stress. Some people were forced to live in substandard housing, such as unclean properties or those located in unsafe or undesirable areas. Some accepted longer commutes to work or more financial pressure in order to get a home.

One interviewee explained why she stayed in an area that she didn’t enjoy:

I have a car on the street that has been broken into a couple of times. There are also some personal safety concerns, but they still let me keep the cat.

Renters who don’t declare pets live in fear of what could happen if the pet is discovered. FenrisWolf, from shutterstock.com

Pet owners were more likely to declare their pets if they had previously been rejected for a rental property because of having a pet. People who have been previously left because of their pet are less likely to declare it. Why would you take the risk?

Renter households are very concerned about the security of their housing. They value their rental properties and want to stay in them as long as possible.

Some people felt they could only secure a home if they did not declare their pets. These households, despite finding it stressful to be in a rental home without being allowed to keep their pets, risked being evicted so that they could live somewhere with their pets.

Are landlords’ fears justified?

The research suggests that the landlords are worried about the potential risks that pets could bring to their property.

These concerns can sometimes be based on experience. There is evidence that suggests that the fears of landlords are only that.

In one US survey, for example, 63% of landlords who were worried about pets in their property didn’t actually have firsthand experience with the problems they identified. When the damage was done, it was “far lower than the average rental or pet deposit.”

Landlords may request a “pet CV,” or owners can improve their chances of getting rented by providing an independent “character reference.” Javier Brosch, from shutterstock.com

In fact, despite what you might think, a lease that allows pets may actually provide landlords with more protection than if they restricted the number of pets. A pet-friendly lease does not automatically enable all pets. Landlords may ask for a ” Pet CV,” as well as references from the pet’s vet, neighbors, or previous landlords. It is important to ensure that the pet applicant will fit in with the property.

In some jurisdictions, such as in Australia, special provisions are made for animals such as cats or dogs living on the property. For example, carpets can be steam cleaned. Some jurisdictions, like the US and certain states of Australia, charge an extra pet bond to cover potential damages.

Pet-friendly leasing may bring you benefits. US-based research indicates that households with pets stay in rental properties for longer than households without pets. Rents are more stable and longer-term for property owners. When landlords make property management decisions, they should consider these factors.

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