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Landlords demand ‘pet references’ with photos and bios of dogs and cats after Covid boom

Landlords are increasingly demanding that pet-owning tenants provide “references” for their animals, including photographs and a bio, after the pandemic led to a surge in renters owning pets.

Letting agents told i they have noticed a “new trend” of pet owners “taking creative approaches” to securing a property in a competitive rental market.

Harriet Scanlan, lettings manager at London-based estate agency Antony Roberts, said some landlords still refuse to accept pets, but others have become more open to the idea if the owner can provide a reference from a previous landlord.

“I have had two or three physical pet references with a photo of the pet. That’s definitely a new trend post-lockdown,” she said.

Emlyn Akoto-Dwemoh, area director at John D Wood & Co, said pet references “have become an integral part of the traditional landlord reference” for them, with the process involving asking previous landlords or agents “about the behaviour and impact of pets on their properties”.

He said some prospective tenants hope to swing things in their favour by “submitting a pet bio or profile complete with an irresistibly cute picture” that “aims to tug on the heartstrings of landlords and property managers”.

Jay Clarke, Lettings Area Manager at Johns&Co, said some tenants also go the “extra mile” by “crafting detailed paragraphs about their pets, outlining their behaviours and temperaments”.

Pet ownership surged during lockdown, with many people using the prolonged period at home as an excuse to become first-time dog or cat owners.

It is currently up to a landlord whether their tenant is allowed to have a pet or not and many landlords take a blanket “no pet” approach.

Renting campaigners have long complained that this practice is discriminatory against tenants, who should be given the same opportunity to own a pet as homeowners.

The Government has proposed changes to the rules around pet ownership in rentals under the upcoming Renters Reform Bill.

Under the new law, which will bring widespread changes to renting in England, a tenant should be allowed to keep a pet unless the landlord “reasonably refuses”.

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