Are you missing out on half of all rental opportunities?

It’s estimated that 43% of the UK population owns a pet. And yet most rentals explicitly state that pets aren’t allowed. Pet owners struggle to find privately rented accommodation that will accept them and their pets. All too often they are forced to live in unsuitable properties, or end up keeping their pets without consent from the landlord. In some cases they face having to give up their pets or becoming homeless.

Accepting pets into your rental property comes with risk. Many landlords are afraid of damage and smells that might result of having a pet in the house. But opening up your property to tenants with pets could maximise its rental potential, and by excluding pet owners you are missing out on a large chunk of the market. Pet-friendly properties are in demand, and tenants tend to stay longer as they find it so hard to find suitable accommodation. Responsible pet owners aren’t likely to do anything to jeopardize their tenancy either.

A new insurance product has just been launched by Endsleigh in collaboration with Dogs Trust and their Lets with Pets campaign. Designed to offer landlords peace of mind, it includes pet damage cover in the policy as standard. In a recent survey by Dogs Trust, 88% of landlords said they would rent to pet owners if there was suitable cover available to cover any damage the pet might cause. This new product might be just what they are looking for. The policy covers accidental pet damage, 120 days unoccupancy, theft and malicious damage by tenants, £2m owner’s liability insurance and landlords contents insurance.

Endsleigh specialist insurance cover against pet damange, for landlords To find out more insurance cover for tenants with pets and to get a quote visit http://www.endsleigh.co.uk/letswithpets

For more information on insurance options for landlords and what you should be looking for in a landlord’s insurance policy, visit our landlord information section.

Growing up Renting

A shocking report from Shelter yesterday has revealed the extent to which the private rental market is having a damaging effect on children’s lives.

Renting is no longer the preserve of young, childless professionals. Now that one in five families rents rather than owns their homes, it’s becoming evident that families with children are badly affected by the uncertainty and some of the worst sharp practices of the rental market.

While a few may appreciate the flexibility that renting gives them, the rental market serves families less well in its current form, preventing them from putting down roots. Renting families are nine times as likely to have moved house in the last year than homeowners, and one in ten renting families have had to move their children to a different school because they moved from one rented home to another. Moving is a major disruption to children’s lives and represents an extra expense that pushes families into debt. Shelter’s report revealed that nearly three quarters of families are struggling or falling behind with their rent, many cutting back on food and heating to stay in their homes.

Of concern to all of us is the evidence that the rental market is not only failing to serve families but in some cases, actively ripping them off. Shelter reports that 28% of families say their landlords haven’t dealt with repairs or poor conditions, and shockingly, 5% report having been threatened by their landlord. Over a half a million renters have admitted to feeling pressurized to secure a property during a viewing, with 85 000 families handing over cash at that point.

What’s clear from this research is that the rental market needs improvement, with too many getting a very poor deal. Whilst people have no choice but to rent, we must do all we can to make renting a safe and comfortable way of live for everyone. Not everyone wants to rent for the long term, but a more stable outcome for those who do can only be a positive outcome.

Read more about Shelter’s campaign for a stable rental contract

Where are we supposed to live?

Today I came across this article on a local newspaper website, and was immediately struck at how inflammatory language is used to present a case in the worst possible light.
The headline says “Residents of an award-winning West End block of flats are trying to scupper a proposal to turn one of the apartments into student accommodation.”

Student accommodation – what horrors does that only bring to the mind of a peaceful resident of an award winning block of Dundee flats? Hundreds of nineteen year olds, tanked up on booze, running riot all night, setting off fire alarms, leaving take away boxes in the hallway and partying into the early hours to loud music, perhaps?

Yet closer reading of the article reveals a totally different reality. The proposal is for a single flat to house “up to 3 people”, who would either be student nurses or trainee doctors. Hardly hell-raisers, and much more likely to be studying hard into the early hours, than turning up the volume.

The owner has reassured residents that they have no intention of turning the block into a student block, and that it is not to his advantage to lower the value of the property either.

What is evident is a certain type of knee-jerk response to shared living – “it isn’t like how we live, therefore we don’t like it”. Residents are worried that the unique nature of their design award winning property would be somehow altered by allowing three unrelated people to live there. Comments on the piece seem to infer that in order to be considered ‘decent’ you must be a single resident or a family, and preferably not renting either.

Students, young professionals, low-earners, recent divorcees and anyone else who lives in flatshares may very well be asking the question: “So, where exactly are we supposed to live?” Councils up and down the country are using their powers to limit the number of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation – normally shared between 3 or more unrelated people). Neighbourhoods deemed to have “too many” houseshares are off-limits, as are areas that don’t have any, just in case a single flatshare should lower the tone, or house prices. Would they prefer that renty-somethings move to the depths of the countryside, or live on ships moored just off the coast, so as not to offend home-owning incumbents with their presence?

Priced out of home-ownership, and rapidly hitting the rental affordability ceiling, many people have no option but to live in shared accommodation. Councils have a duty of care to house the homeless – do they not also have a duty to make a balanced case for housing for everyone? Or will they continue to allow the haves to ride roughshod over the have-nots, depriving many of the last affordable housing options? Have they not noticed there’s a housing crisis going on? Or are they only concerned about issues that concern the people most likely to vote them back into power? Answers on a postcard please.

Posted in hmo