The Ruff State of Renting With Pets in 2020

For decades, it has been made incredibly difficult for people in rentals to own dogs. These are animals that provide friends to the lonely, therapy for the ill; ask your landlord if you can get one though and the figures say you’ll likely be shot down. 

We wanted to challenge this, so began in lengthy study looking at rare pet friendly apartments are, the impact they can have on the tenants and community, what value landlords can get from it and even interviewing key figures in the conversation.

A Look At The Important Data

So you have a solid foundation of information going into this report, let’s establish some of the following points:

  • In 2018, the fourth highest reason people gave up their pets was they changed home and they weren’t allowed in the new property (source).
  • Eight million households in the UK are rented homes (source).
  • Owning a pet is a very healthy habit, and ownership saves the NHS £2.45 billion per year, as discussed in a study from the University of Lincoln.
  •  93% of owners believe owning a pet makes them happy… (source)
  • …but only 4.3% of rentals in Manchester, 1.41% of rentals in Leeds and 0.97% of rentals in Birmingham allow pets according to their listings (data collected by Kennel Store using Zoopla).

What Cities Are The Most Pet Friendly for Renters?

Data collection was a key part of this study, because we wanted to understand every facet of the conversation we were starting. 

During this research phase, we found two completely separate pieces of data which not only provide a great foundation for understanding how important this conversation is, but also triggered us to find our own exclusive set of data. The two starting points were:

Point #1: 93% of owners believe that owning a pet makes them happier (source).

Point #2: Mental health disorders affect one in four people (source) while the use of animals has been a proven method of combating these issues. 

As you can see, animals have been used to help people with anxiety, depression and other disorders for decades, which BMC explore in their research paper from 2018. This isn’t a new, experimental theory – it is an established element of therapy.

Something didn’t look right, though. We knew there wouldn’t be one in four rentals that are dog-friendly available across the United Kingdom. 

So, we scraped data across popular rental site Zoopla to see which cities have the most, and least, pet-friendly homes available on the website. Below, you can see the data which was accurate as of September 2020.

DATASET: Pet-Friendly Rental Listings Per Major City on Zoopla

Instantly, we found exactly what we knew we would…

0 %
of the UK suffer from mental health disorders and...​
0 %
of people consider pets as part of their family, yet only...
0 %
of rentals available are pet friendly.

Some more data points jumped out at us, too. For example, Birmingham had the lowest amount of homes listed that were pet friendly, with only 42 of the 4,324 (0.97%) of them allowing animals. On the other end of the spectrum, Manchester had a much higher level of rental properties that welcome pets, totalling 170 of the 3,898 available at a – still incredibly low – rate of 4.36%.

Not great reading for anyone looking to rent and own a pet – and there’s a lot of them.

The Renters

Most people reading this will be approaching this topic from this perspective, which is fair – there will always be more renters than landlords. We wanted to speak to that side of the coin and discuss the most prominent issues we came across.

First and foremost was the fact that every rental comes with a deposit; a safety measure, triggered when a home is damaged beyond regular ‘wear and tear’. The opinion of many is that this should cover the potential damage any pet could cause – a frequently cited reason why landlords won’t allow pets. After all, a dog might scratch a door every now and then, but humans can be incredibly messy and destructive. One drunk incident could result in thousands of pounds more damage than even a posse of cats could cause.

Another issue we frequently found was that a sound system is much louder than a cats meow; a fair point, maybe not portrayed in the fairest way. The term “no pets allowed” means what it says on the tin, not “only loud pitbulls forbidden” – the ruling often leaves out something as small as a guinea pig or a tortoise, giving the owner with little wiggle room over the pet-less applicants.

0 %
of the 6,000+ pet friendly properties under Phoenix Housing recieved complaints about their pets.

In truth, an inconsiderate neighbour has many more weapons at their disposal when it comes to noise pollution; a video game played at maximum volume, a small child running on laminate floors, a penchant for playing drums. While none of these are ideal, none of these are also limited in the majority of rental properties available – yet animals are. 

Some homes are obviously better suited to animals. It would be hard to disagree with a landlord frowning upon a large, energetic mastiff in a tiny studio apartment. We managed to interview Jonathan Newall, director of Southgate Estates, about this: 

Firstly, if pets are well behaved... we actively encourage pets. We find that clients with dogs tend to make excellent tenants, but there are exceptions. These [problems] tend to be where people are renting properties that are not ideal for the keeping of pets. For example, dogs in flats rarely work.

Jonathan Newall - Director of Southgate Estates


This is an approach that we would like to see from estate agents and landlords more; an initial willingness to allow pets until circumstances or revelations change that. 

In fact, allowing animals can present many benefits to the property owner.

The Value of 'Pet Friendly'

Yes, from the renters perspective there are many benefits of allowing a pet in the home – primarily, not having to split up the family. In fact, studies show that moving to a home where pets weren’t allowed was the fourth highest reason UK owners were no longer with their pets (source). There’s more to it for the landlords, though.

It gives landlords a competitive advantage.

While we don’t have the exact figures, you imagine millions are lost every year over rental properties that are sitting unoccupied. This can be a huge deficit in the landlords usual income. However, by allowing animals, you stand out and give yourself a competitive advantage over other properties; considerably increasing the chances of your property being picked. 

Not only that, but a study by the University of Western Australia showed that people with pets are much more likely to stay in tenancies for longer. Frequent turnover of tenants can be a nightmare for landlords, so this is a particularly valuable stat. 

Creates a good relationship with the tenant.

More than 200 dogs a year are sent to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home due to landlord restrictions. That could be more than 200 families a year, in just that area, split up. By saving the family that want to rent a property from that fate, the landlord will instantly get that relationship off to a great start.

Sadly we detect a trend of people being forced to choose between a home and their animals. Indeed, housing is now cited as the second biggest factor behind people giving up their pets to Battersea.

Claire Horton - Chief Exec of BDCH
Claire Horton


It is by building a relationship like this, and not just seeing the situation as a tenancy/rental financial transaction, that bonds are formed and landlords are kept at peace knowing they can trust the people living in their property.  

A bad tenant with no pet is worse than a good tenant with a pet.

If you were to show a landlord against pet ownership two renters, one with a pet and one without one – they would instantly prefer the one with no pet. That’s fair, they may have their reasons – but we fear that the inclusion of a pet is being considered over the quality of their personality.

The applicant with the dog may be much more trustworthy, a more punctual tenant or more considerate of their property. It would be much more preferable to have someone with these qualities and a cat, than someone without those qualities and no pets. 

It's great for the community.

A landlord may have several properties in the area, or simply have loved the community enough to buy a home there in the first place. Research shows there are many communal benefits that animal owners can provide. 

  • Pet owners are 60% more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood than non-pet owners according to Harvard Medical School.
  • The fees around owning a pet can boost the local economy: vets, barbers, dog walkers, pet food providers and more may all be supported, as detailed by APPA.
  • Owning a pet is a very healthy habit, and ownership saves the NHS £2.45 billion per year, as discussed in a study from the University of Lincoln.

Sometimes though, all a landlord needs is a little push…

Tips On Getting Your Pet Accepted!

As you can see, there is a lot of value there to be tapped in to by landlords. They might just not recognise them. 

Make them. 

If someone is trying to get a reluctant landlord on board with allowing a pet into the home, then they have to take action and change their mind. Showing them this article would be a good start, but we wanted to end this study with some positivity, so we scoured forums across the internet and found the three most popular options for getting a pet accepted. 

Introduce the pet to the landlord.

Everyone is going to tell their potential landlord that their pet is one of the quietest and most well behaved in the world.

This means that, even if you are in that tiny quota, they won't believe you. So, introduce the two and make them realise.

Offer a higher rent
to them.

While you can't legally offer a higher deposit, a larger monthly rent can be negotiated. This is a great alternative, but be sure to get it all agreed on paper.

A landlord could always change their mind and kick someone out only weeks into the tenancy, so stay protected with a signature from both parties.

Put an ex-landlord
in touch.

If the pet has been fine in another property before then put the two landlords in touch to discuss any hesitations the new one has.

Hopefully, the ex can allay any fears and keep that family together for another few years - exactly what we want!

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Researching for this study has been a very eye-opening experience, to both the struggles of the tenants and the value that pets can truly provide. All too often, families  are being broken up because a property owner has an outdated approach to pets in the home. 

We’re not saying that all landlords should let all pets into all properties.

What the research suggests is that, outside of the emotional heartbreak that could be avoided, there is serious potential waiting to be tapped in to – both culturally and financially. 

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