I think that you will find that most landlords don’t allow pets. And they don’t differentiate between cats and dogs. I think that in itself is a mistake by the way.
The fact that most landlords don’t allow pet applies both to the UK and the USA. This creates a shortage of housing for people with cats who are unable to purchase. It also allows some less than responsible cat owners to surrender their cat because they can’t find suitable rental accommodation. Some cat owners use the shortage of let properties as a reason to surrender their cat. In fact, a 2015 study, Goodbye to a Good Friend: an Exploration of the Rehoming of Cats and Dogs in the US, states that a lack of housing was the number one reason why renters give up their pets.
As far as I’m concerned landlords need to adopt a more enlightened approach to letting to tenants with cats. And I think, we should differentiate between cats and dogs. I believe that cats are much less likely to cause a disturbance to neighbours and less likely to cause damage to a flat (apartment). Landlords should have an enlightened approach towards tenants and their cats.
There are several reasons why landlords should open their eyes to the commercial benefits of allowing a tenant with a cat to rent their property. The American Veterinary Association estimates that 50% of renters have pets. Let’s say, therefore, that around a quarter of renters have a cat. Further, 35% of renters without a pet say they would have a pet if it was allowed by the landlord. There’s a big market for people who want to rent a property and who own a cat. This market can be tapped into by an enlightened landlord.
If a landlord allowed a cat he/she would probably be able to ask for a higher rental due to market forces. Apparently, in the US, a landlord can add $1000 to the usual rental when renting to a cat or dog owner.
Landlords do their utmost to reduce the amount of time that their property is vacant. The vacancy rate for a pet friendly rental property is 10% (the property is vacant for 10% of the year) compared to 14% if the property is not pet friendly. Also, cat friendly properties rent in about half the time as non-cat friendly properties. And there are twice as many applicants. All of these factors can be converted into dollars. Landlords should see these benefits.
Also, tenants with children cause more damage than tenants without children and tenants with children cause more damage than tenants with pets. And yet landlords routinely let their properties to parents with kids. My conclusion is that from a commercial standpoint landlords should let his property to cat owners and in order to protect their property against damage they can ensure that the tenancy agreement includes suitable clauses such as:
- Paying a larger deposit, perhaps non-refundable, but charging a higher rental in effect covers this point
- Including a clause in the agreement which obliges the tenant to clean the flat to a certain standard, perhaps by professionals, at the end of the tenancy agreement.
- A clause which places an obligation upon the tenant to purchase an insurance policy covering liabilities should their cat attack a neighbour or cause damage to the property.
There may be some umbrella laws depending on which country you live in. Apparently, in New South Wales in Australia a landlord is not permitted ask for a bond (deposit) for more than four weeks rental if the tenant has a pet. But they can ask the tenant to fumigate the property when he leaves. It may be prudent to check any local laws both from the standpoint of the tenant and the landlord.
In addition to the points made above, the landlord can prepare his apartment or house (most rental accommodation is an apartment) in a way which makes it more suitable for a tenant with a cat. Flooring should be vinyl and not carpet. This makes it easier to clean for obvious reasons. The walls should be painted with a durable, easy to clean paint. Blinds or plantation shutters rather than curtains should be considered.
The landlord should also inspect the property at regular intervals to make sure that the tenant is doing his/her best to keep the property in good order. It also tells the tenant that the landlord is on his toes and keeping an eye on things which motivates the tenant to perform to a higher standard. Finally, landlords should take up proper references to do their best to ensure that the tenant is of a reputable character.
To be frank, the risk for a landlord is not a cat living with his tenant but a bad tenant who damages his property and who fails to pay his rental. This risk is far higher than the risk taken in allowing a property to be occupied by a person and her cat. It should be said that arguably most cat owners are responsible people because surveys have found that typical cat owners are more intelligent than the average and often females.
Come on landlords! Let’s see you do something for cat owners looking for rental property. It not only helps these people but it helps the cat population as well. It will probably save the lives of many cats in shelters too.