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Property investment - a dog's life?


15th June 2009 | back to article listings BACK    print this article PRINT

They say a dog is man's best friend, while cats own people rather than the other way round. But while Britain may be a nation of animal lovers, it is perhaps becoming less of a country of owner-occupiers.

With the private rental sector having grown so much in recent years through the expansion of buy-to-let, it may be little surprise that these two factors may increasingly collide. Landlords may not wish for tenants to have pets, given the possibilities of damage that may occur, but such a view may be open to challenge.

Lets with Pets is one campaign group that is actively seeking to address the issue of landlords refusing pet owners accommodation. Manager Claire Kivlehan said that attitudes may be changing in the current market. She stated: "I think that in the past, when the property market was in a more positive state in terms of lettings, they felt that they didn't need to go out of their way to look at pet owners or consider them." This, Ms Kivlehan said, meant landlords could choose the people they thought were "most responsible" - which did not mean pet owners.

She added that there has been a historic tendency to "assume" that tenants with pets would cause a problem, but insisted this is anything but the truth.

"It's actually the contrary, because people that have pets tend to be very responsible, they are looking after a pet and they really want to find a property and stay in it for longer because they don't want to move on again and go through the same experience. We are trying to get away from this idea that pets cause problems."

The evidence that such discrimination exists seems clear. A recent survey by the Dogs Trust found that 75 per cent of pet owners had difficulty finding rental accommodation and 54 per cent were unable to get anywhere at all.

Such a situation may well offer landlords cause for reconsideration. Of course, some types of accommodation may not be very suitable for pets, such as flats in city centres, whereas a house close to a park would offer an obviously better prospect. But for those who are finding limits to the amount of demand they are seeing for their properties, it may be that an opportunity exists to tap in to a grateful niche market, ensuring rental income while providing accommodation for both man and man's best friend.


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