Renting with Pets

It is a tragic reality that many elderly and poor people have to give up their pets when they have to move to an old-age home or in order to obtain subsidised housing. In the USA and the UK there are laws that protect the individual's right to animals if elderly or disabled but sadly, in South Africa, some places don't even allow guide or service dogs in rented properties... Decisions are at the discretion of the individual landlord or agent and there are no firm policies in place to regulate rental agreements. These days, both pets and children are often used to discriminate against prospective tenants, particularly in complexes, security estates and other developments.

Unfortunately, most people, when forced to choose between their pet/s and a place to live, opt for the latter, which compounds the pet over-population crisis in South Africa. Alongside immigration and relocation, moving to a flat or house where pets are not allowed, is one of the main reasons given when someone surrenders their pet to a welfare society like the SPCA or advertises for a new home for it. As owning a home becomes increasingly unaffordable for many South Africans, finding suitable residential premises to rent has become a huge problem for pet owners.

Many property owners and estate agents share the perception that renting to pet owners creates a nightmare situation in terms of damage to the property and so forth. The only way to change this perception and thereby help to remove the barriers to pet ownership in rental accommodation, is for you the responsible pet owner to set an example at all times!

Landlords also need to understand that there are several benefits associated with allowing people to rent with their pet/s. In the USA for example, some landlords choose to only rent to pet owners because they believe they make the most responsible tenants. In their experience pet owners tend to pay rent on time and accept increases more readily. Pet owners are also more likely to become permanent or long-term tenants if they are happy with their place of residence. Renting to pet owners helps to reduce vacancies and increase tenant satisfaction, as well as bringing in higher profits for property owners. Tenants on the other hand benefit from the companionship, affection, enhanced self-esteem and sense of security that their pets provide.

Tips for renting with your pet/s:
  • Do not answer adverts that specify "No Pets" and never move into a place and assume you can talk your way into keeping your pet/s afterwards. Be totally upfront and honest from the outset.
  • Contact individual landlords rather than large letting agents. If you do opt to go through an estate agent, check whether they deal with pet-friendly rentals first.
  • Try to bring up the issue of pet/s in person rather than on the phone.
  • Offer to let the prospective landlord meet your pet/s and / or view your current home. Alternatively you could compile a Pet CV, which includes references from previous landlords, neighbours, vets and so forth.
  • Offer to sign a pet agreement and pay a “pet damages deposit”.
  • Wherever possible, show that you are willing to be a responsible pet owner and tenant.
  • To find a suitable pet-friendly place to rent, place your own adverts in local newspapers, community papers, on websites like this one, and in e-mail newsletters. The same applies to retirement complexes and old age homes.
Please help us to locate pet-friendly accommodation for senior citizens: If you know of any pet-friendly old age homes and or retirement villages, please e-mail or call us, so that we can make this information available to senior pet owners. Also contact us if you want to advertise your pet-friendly development or premises on this site.
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