Many pet-owning tenants are hiding their pets from their landlord

One in 10 pet-owning tenants are currently ‘hiding’ an animal from a landlord – with another quarter admitting they’ve done so in the past.

A study of 1,000 adults who have ever rented and owned a pet at the same time found 10 per cent are living with a furry friend despite it being banned as part of their rental agreement.

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A further 25 per cent have done so in the past, resulting in tenants feeling anxious (52 per cent), worried (45 per cent) and guilty (28 per cent).

But one in 10 have been caught out by a landlord, due to a surprise visit (48 per cent), seeing them when they were out, such as on a dog walk (21 per cent) and even anonymous tip offs (20 per cent).

And, sadly, for 22 per cent of those, this led to them being evicted.

But 53 per cent admitted they were – and are - prepared for any potential consequences if they were found out.

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The top animals people have secretly owned included dogs (59 per cent), cats (56 per cent) and rabbits (eight per cent).

Fibbing for the furry friend

The research was commissioned by Mars Petcare to mark the launch of ‘The Petiquette Guide to Rentals and Pet Ownership’ - a digital guide published in partnership with Battersea Dogs & Cats home to help tenants and landlords navigate pet tenancy.

Paolo Rigamonti, general manager of Mars Petcare UK, said: “Responsible pet owners shouldn’t be denied the right to experience the joy and benefits of pet ownership just because they rent, but the current legislation and lack of clarity unfairly impacts renters.

“We also know just how severe the stress of living with uncertainty is for pet owning tenants and - with tenancy restrictions directly contributing to pet abandonment - it’s clear change needs to happen."

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Broadcaster, cat owner and landlord Zara McDermott said: “As a cat parent to Cedric and Albus, I know first-hand just how much joy pets can bring to life every day.

“The thought of loving pet owners having to choose between remaining in their home and keeping their pet is just awful, which is why I’m so pleased to be working with Mars Petcare and Battersea – helping pet owners get clued up with the Petiquette Guide to Rentals and Pet Ownership.”

The study also found 37 per cent haven’t asked their landlord if they can have a pet, due to being worried they’ll say no (24 per cent) and being afraid of getting evicted (14 per cent).

And 24 per cent refuse to ask because they’ll keep their pet regardless.

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The lengths tenants have gone to in order to keep their animals hidden included having someone on emergency standby to pet-sit (45 per cent) and using room spray to conceal giveaway smells (37 per cent).

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) have lied to their landlord and said the animal isn’t theirs, but a friend’s, while 19 per cent have covered their pet’s cage or bed with a sheet.

Guide for landlords and tenants

It also emerged more than a third (34 per cent) understand why property owners don’t allow pets in their rented properties but they’re not in agreement with it.

While 69 per cent of those surveyed via OnePoll support the proposed Renters’ Reform Bill which will make it easier for tenants to find a home.

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Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) agreed there are benefits to living with a pet, including combating loneliness (84 per cent), reducing stress (75 per cent) and encouraging exercise (63 per cent).

But for 34 per cent, having an animal has caused problem for them when trying to find somewhere to live.

Paolo Rigamonti added: “We know some landlords have understandable concerns, but many recognise the numerous benefits of renting to tenants with pets.

“Our Petiquette Guide is a fantastic resource for landlords and tenants, arming them with the information they need in one place, and helping ensure no pets or renters have to face unimaginable consequences of overly-restrictive tenancy agreements.”

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Case Study - Zoe Dowler

Zoe Dowler, 31, is moving out of London due to a lack of pet-friendly properties.

Zoe was renting in North London with her 15-year-old Ragdoll, Roxy, who she adopted 10 years ago, when her landlord doubled her rent.

She had paid an additional deposit of £500 – half her monthly rent – when she moved in in order to have Roxy live with her, but the 50 per cent increase meant they were forced to look for somewhere more affordable.

Searching for options, she was shocked to find zero results fitting her budget, location of North London and importantly a pet friendly criteria.

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Reaching out to landlords explaining Roxy is an elderly, well behaved cat, she received no response and as a result has decided to move out of the area she has called home for a decade.

Her other options, which were a no-go for Zoe, were to give up Roxy or stay put and spend over half her income on rent.

Zoe is prepared to take the leap in order to not be separated from her feline friend, but feels the lack of suitable options has essentially forced her out.

Zoe said: “Roxy and I have been through a number of rental situations in London: some good, and some bad.

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“When I first got Roxy, I didn’t tell my landlord for two years as I wasn’t technically allowed a pet.

“The stress of keeping Roxy a secret was overwhelming and I decided to be upfront with landlords since then.

“After looking on various housing websites, inputting my preferences through the ‘pet filter’, I was shocked that my search threw up zero results within my price bracket.

“The only viable option for me now is to move out of the city I’ve called home for over 10 years, unless I was prepared to give up Roxy – something I could never do.”

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