In recent years there has been a big move towards making Ireland more pet friendly, particularly in the rental sector. That’s because, despite that fact that around half the households in Ireland have at least one pet, finding a rental property that will accept the furry members of the family can prove to be a real problem. This results in pets having to be given up, or sometimes kept in the property without the landlord’s knowledge.
While many landlords are reluctant to accept pets (for perfectly valid reasons), you may be wondering what the right course of action is for you. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of allowing pets in your property, so you can make an informed decision about your future tenancies.
Can Landlords No Longer Ban Pets in Ireland?
Even though Ireland is becoming increasingly pet friendly, the rumour that landlords can no longer ban pets is not true. In Ireland, landlords are allowed to refuse to allow pets in their properties, except for animals that are certified to assist with a disability. The existing legislation governing tenant-landlord relationships, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, does not clearly outline the permissions or restrictions related to pet ownership in rented properties. Consequently, the decision to permit or prohibit pets in a rental property is often made at the individual discretion of the landlord.
Are There Any Benefits To Allowing Pets In Your Property?
For many landlords, prohibiting pets may feel like a no-brainer. There is certainly the potential for a range of problems, including damage, odours, allergens and even neighbour disputes. However, there are a few benefits to allowing pets in your property that you may not have considered.
Wider Tenant Pool
There are many tenants who are looking to move with a pet but finding their options extremely limited. While, depending on the area, you likely will not struggle to find a tenant for your property, allowing pets will significantly increase the pool of tenants who might apply. As it’s so difficult to find a rental property that will accept pets, yours will likely leap to the top of a lot of peoples’ lists if you specify that they are allowed.
Because it is so tricky to find pet friendly long term rentals in Ireland, your chances are much higher of finding tenants who will want to stick around for a long time. Unless they have a good reason to move elsewhere, tenants are unlikely to want to go through the hassle of finding another pet-friendly property.
This is pretty significant, as the average lifespan of a dog is 13 years, while cats usually live to the age of 15. That’s potentially a much longer stretch without having to deal with arranging new tenancies and all the inconvenience that comes along with it.
Dog and cat ownership are long-term commitments that most people don’t enter into lightly. While it won’t be the case for every single person, good pet owners tend to be responsible people – which translates into a responsible tenant. Plus, with such a shortage of pet-friendly properties available, they will likely go the extra mile to make sure they take good care of their home.
Check Your Lease
The first step when thinking about allowing pets in your property is to check if your lease will allow it. If you own a freehold property, there are usually very few restrictions regarding pets. However, a lease (particularly for an apartment) may have a clause prohibiting the keeping of dogs or other animals. If this is the case, you do have the option to contact the Ground Landlord to ask if they would consider changing the terms of the lease.
How To Mitigate Risks When Allowing Pets In Your Property
If your lease allows it and you think you might like to offer a pet-friendly rental, there are a few ways you can minimise risks and make sure you won’t regret your decision.
A Flexible Approach
It’s wise to consider allowing pets by arrangement so you can look at each situation on a case-by-case basis. For example, while you may have no problem allowing a cat or a small, laid back breed of dog in an apartment, you may quite rightly take issue with allowing a large, active dog in the same space. Similarly, an older animal is far less likely to cause damage than a kitten or a puppy that requires a lot of training. This approach offers much more flexibility than offering a blanket ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to pets.
Request A Pet Reference
If a potential tenant is moving from another rental property, you can ask the previous landlord to give a reference for the pet as well as the people. By doing this, you can find out if there were ever any problems related to the pet, such as any damage or complaints. You can also get their opinion on whether or not the tenant is a responsible owner. If you like, you can even go one step further and ask to meet the pet yourself. That way, you can see for yourself how well (or badly!) behaved they are.
Protect Yourself Against Damage
One of the main concerns for most landlords is that a pet will cause additional damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. However, even in a worst-case scenario, there is no damage a pet could cause that would be impossible to fix. An easy solution to this is to ask for a pet deposit, where the tenant will pay additional money on top of the standard security deposit.
As with a regular deposit, if any damage is caused by the pet you can use this money to repair it. Otherwise, it will be returned once the tenancy is over. You could also write into the agreement that the tenant will have the property (including all soft furnishings and carpets) professionally cleaned before they leave.
Carry Out Inspections
Regular property inspections are always recommended, and can be particularly helpful when dealing with pets. They can identify early on whether there are any issues with the animal and allow you to tackle them before they escalate further. You might like to have more frequent inspections early on in the tenancy to make sure everything is going as planned.
Check Your Insurance
It’s always a good idea to have landlord insurance, but not all policies will include accidental pet damage. This is designed to protect your fixtures, fittings and furniture against any damage caused by pets and will give you more freedom to accept tenants with pets should you want to. Check to see if accidental pet damage is included in your policy or if it is something that can be added on.
If You Don’t Want Pets In Your Property
If you’ve decided not to allow pets, make sure that this is written into your standard tenancy agreement. If this isn’t included and a tenant decides to get a pet without your knowledge, then there is little you can do to make them get rid of it. Without the measures outlined above in place, this could result in additional problems or damage to the property.
If you do specify ‘no pets allowed’ in the tenancy agreement but discover that there is a pet at the property, then you are within your rights to evict them for breaching their agreement. For more information about this process, take a look at our blog post, Everything You Need To Know About Ending A Tenancy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting pets in your rental property, and ultimately it’s a personal choice whether you allow them or not. However, allowing pets won’t necessarily have a negative impact on your property and there are also benefits that may make good business sense. If you do want to allow pets, then doing your research, taking precautions and having the proper agreements in place can go a long way in keeping both you and your tenants happy.