Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re also a leaseholder’s nightmare.
A couple who bought a £1m penthouse in Limehouse, east London, found that out the hard way last month, when a judge found in favour of their management company who upheld a “no pets policy” banning their Yorkshire-Maltese cross from living on the premises.
And they’re not the only ones who’ve missed out on a home because of a strict prohibition on pooches.
Amie Roberts, who has been a lettings manager at Foxtons for ten years, says it’s “very unusual” to find a landlord willing to put up with pets, “especially when it comes to lettings. A lot of the new builds just won’t allow any pets at all, and people sometimes find out after they buy.”
Roberts says that, due to more people renting for longer, she’s having to deal with more tenants than ever who have pets, yet when asked, she estimates only 25 per cent of landlords are willing to let their property out to them.
So what’s got landlords all hot under the collar? The problem in apartment blocks is largely to do with noise; loud pets are anti-social. Many letting agents suggest putting a nuisance clause in any agreement where a pet is involved, and that’s also what a new build scheme in west London, Chelsea Island, has chosen to do as a way to attract owner occupiers to live in the building. “The vast majority will not move into a new building if it means abandoning their pets,” says James Taylor, from the developer Hadley Property Group.
Licences, often issued on a yearly basis by concierges, are another way of monitoring pet behaviour, but some landlords can’t even be bothered with that. “The landlord may be worried that they won’t get the licence and just goes, ‘No, I don’t want to get involved.’” says Roberts.
Pet-friendly floors are gradually being trialled in new private rental schemes, such as The Hub in Harrow, whch has two dedicated pet floors, Vantage Point in Archway, which has three pet floors, and at Fizzy Living, which even sets up ‘pet stations’ equipped with grooming kits and treats.
These ready-made pet-friendly communities are especially handy if you work long hours. Chema Garcia, who lives in Fizzy housing in Stepney Green, says, “Many of my neighbours are always willing to lend a hand with the dog walking duties, which is very helpful for me as I often work long hours.”
Pets are popular with these PRS schemes, which are targeted at young professionals priced out of buying, and want to do as much as they can to keep tenants around for longer.
Another committed demographic is the retirement community, and many schemes for them, such as Battersea Place, welcome cuddly companionship as it makes for happier, stable residents.
Simon Saint, an architect with Woods Bagot, who is creating potting sheds, bike repair and pet washing amenities for the Creekside Wharf scheme in Greenwich, says pets should be part of a bigger discussion about how we force urban residents to live unrealistically pristine existences in tidy boxes.
“We believe pet-friendly facilities should actually form part of a much wider conversation about robust utility spaces for ‘messy’ activities – these are essential. We try to create spaces that don’t force residents to do things like clean their pets in the bath or sink, an option many apartment dwelling Londoners are left with.”
It seems builders are leading the way when it comes to lets with pets, but will landlords follow suit?