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Tenants with pets – to let or not to let

7 August 2021

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Kiwis own more pets per household than anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately for renters, only 13% of landlords allow pets in their rental properties. So, what are the pros and cons of allowing a four-legged co-tenant to move in, and what opportunities are you missing out on by having a hard "no pets" policy?

There seems to be a love-hate relationship between Kiwis and pets. We love to own them, but we hate having them in our rental properties. If you've ever owned a furry friend and tried to find rental accommodation, you would know the feeling of frustration of scrolling through endless properties that coldly state "no pets".

New Zealand is home to more than 4.35 million companion animals. Yes, they almost outnumber people! 41% of NZ households have cats, a third own a dog, and 9% have fish. But our latest stats show that only 13% of properties currently advertised on myRent are specifically listed as "pet friendly". So there is definitely an opportunity there for landlords to re-consider their firm pet policy.

Reasons to be a pet-friendly landlord

  • By deciding to go pet-friendly, you significantly increase your tenant selection pool. More choice is always better.
  • Given that there is a limited number of pet-friendly properties available, tenants with pets are often happy to pay on average $20+ more per week for a suitable property.
  • Finding the right pet-friendly home is hard. This means that tenants know when they're onto a good thing and will choose to stay longer.
  • Pet-friendly properties are let out faster.
  • No more tenants keeping pets a secret from landlords. By being aware of animals, you can take control back by including them in the tenancy agreement, with clear instructions, rules and restrictions on the type of pet allowed and where they can go in the property. It's always good to have control of the situation.

Reasons not to be a pet-friendly landlord

  • Pets increase the likelihood of damage to your property. But, interestingly, some studies have shown that the cost of damage from pets was much smaller than the costs associated with tenants with children.
  • Even if there is no damage, animals tend to wear the properties faster. This will, of course, depend on the type of pet.
  • Pets can disturb neighbours. Just like pets, neighbours come in all shapes and sizes. There is no guarantee that even the most innocent miniature breed is not going to cause a problem.
  • Allowing pets can lead to the potential loss of future tenants. For example, some people are allergic to dogs and cats, and if your previous tenant had a pet, allergens might have gotten into your place. It is possible to get rid of them, but it may be costly. Generally, tenants with pets may be more than happy to pay for this at the end of their tenancy to secure a place.

So what is the best approach?

Deciding to become a pet-friendly landlord is an individual choice. But there is a huge opportunity to significantly increase your tenant pool by considering people with pets without the need to lock yourself into a pet-particular category.

Access your property for the type of pet your house might be best suitable for

Not all properties are pet-friendly. For some landlords - accepting pets is not an option. Some body corp rules prohibit pets in rentals, and some properties are positioned too close to neighbours, which might cause unnecessary conflicts. But usually, most properties can accept some pets. You can start with birds, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs. Or you can make a few minor improvements to make your house more suitable for cats and dogs:

  • Fencing the garden, putting a temporary fence to create a separate safe area outside;
  • Installing a doggy/cat door for easy access;
  • Adding grass to your garden.

Properties with tiles or floorboards are more suited to indoor pets as they are easier to keep clean than carpet.

Set expectations and clear rules with your tenants about pets

The best thing to do is to consider each tenant with pets on a case-by-case basis. For peace of mind, you can ask to see a pet reference, meet the pet, talk to previous landlords about their experience during reference checks, talk to the applicants about who looks after their pet when they're away on extended trips or during work hours.

Remember renting to tenants with pets is about tenants, not about pets. You can get a good idea during the screening process if the applicants are responsible and genuine people who care for their animals and the homes they live in.

Add extra clauses to the tenancy agreement:

  • You can specify the number of pets allowed, pet type, breed, and even specific animal by name. If anything were to happen to the animal, the tenants would need to re-apply to have a replacement pet.
  • You can ask your tenants to clean/pick up after their pets promptly and regularly.
  • You could ask tenants to notify you immediately if the pet caused any damage. So you can address and fix things quickly.

Open and transparent communication helps maintain a good relationship with tenants and may encourage them to uphold their rental and pet agreement.

Make sure you check your current insurance

Not all insurances are created equal. Make sure your insurance policy covers pet damage to avoid unexpected surprises down the track.

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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What the community has to say
  • CC

    When we used to rent, we always had to lie about how many cats we had, so we didn't want our tenants to have to do that with us. Getting tenants with pets has been great for us - they really appreciate it and look after the property better. Children cause more damage!

  • EH

    My tenant has asked if they can pay extra to have a pet at the property. The current rental agreement says no and is only a couple of months into a 6 month lease. Can the rent be increased within the first 12 months to add pets to the agreement or do they need to wait one year?

  • AV

    Problem is the proble some don't respect other people properties, request once they move in. They don't understand the effect on the pet on the landlord for future, its a risk of harder renting,of damages pf creating mess. Some don't care after they leave and that is why landlords don't need wxtra problems of ungreatful tenats. Not everyone is the same, but manypet owners don't treat the property like is their own, or maybe will treat their own property poorly, and try to don't take responsabilities for their pet damages after they promise everytbhing under the sun before enter the agreement. Genuinety, honesty,responsability, have character and integrity are values that unfortunately aren't promoted in the society in in some more then the other, especially in the one in which people are let to believe that they are entitle and have rights but not responsabilities and NZ have too much this approch a lack of respect for someone else hard work, probably thatis the reason of a low percentage in renting to people with pets. I never seen so many dirty properties and bad look after like I have the oportunity to see in NZ. mess everywhre, food everywhere, everything everywhere, lack of personal standards. I work in cleaning area and as a sell person and have frinds changing electrical boads, or electrician. Is not ok what is happening. I have no doubts we can step up and stop abusing pets or family member or properties in NZ

  • MW

    I have a tenant who said she had no pets to discover she did dog inside house and cat...two....when I told her no pets she become nasty and smart with her replies to me.contract inplace no pets...kept add no pets and sent to her as she stated it wasn't...i keep everything...I send two letters via email 14days to remedy...she told me in a angry way they had been removed...which they hadn't...14days passed and they are still at property.Asked her again she says they aren't hers...which clearly they replies aggressive and anti social behaviour...stems from lying about animals and not wanting me doing inspections .Late rent over 21days...animals x2...gardens never done and nasty...she only been in the property 8wks.New carpet new drapes bathroom and toilet lineo...caused so much stress never encounted this before. Many calls to tenancy services
    ..feel afraid to send notices due to it falls under hassment...did one inspection at 4weeks dog hiding over locked in car...didn't say a thing in fear of her's a nitemare of worry.We had tenants that ruin another house next door with dogs we allowed...dogs ruin carpet lineo doors ...walls high costs to poo everywhere.we learnt from that decided no more pets.Worse house is right on our place of work door step so we see consent from her landlord to make alterations we just notice...hating going into work and all the stories its hard now to get tenants works in their favor and not the she threatens us with tenancy tribural's like she trying to make us angry on purpose...we have followed all rules set out...but gosh its a process...I could have a mental breakdown with this lady ...I don't want to be a drains the life out of you.She was never honest from the get go on many things not just the animals to get our ive join here for help.

  • AB

    christ i had same deal -young person thinking it’s ok to have dogs inside on new carpet -drugs smoking dealing
    abused as the freddy landlord when i spent 40 prior to installing brand new gibs kitchen bathroom painting for this all to be undone by scum

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