Renting in London:the accidental landlord draws the line after a tenant asks to bring his parrot

No pets means no parrots - after some online research the accidental landlord finds they have ‘raucous, ear-shattering screams that can be heard miles away’

So certain am I that the guy looking around my one-bedroom flat is going to put in an offer that I’m giving the thumbs-up sign to my husband as we follow the viewer from room to room. Then, suddenly, things take an unexpected turn.

Out of the blue, the viewer asks me what the neighbours are like. A reasonable question, you might think, but when I tell him they’re quiet, keep themselves to themselves, he asks if they go out to work all day, every day.

“Why, are you a burglar?” I quip. He doesn’t laugh, just stares at me for an embarrassingly long time, then shrugs. “I was just asking,” he says, and strides out of the room.

Damn it, I’m worried that my silly sense of humour has put him off, but as he makes for the door he says he’s going to “have a little think”, then adds that he’ll probably make me an offer before the end of the day. Only the third viewer and already I almost have an offer.

Then he turns and says oh-so-very-casually like it’s no big deal that he has a pet. “Don’t worry,” he adds, “it’s only a parrot.”

Wait, what? A pet? No way! The advert said NO PETS. And what does he mean, “only” a parrot. That counts as a pet, right?

He says it’s fine, it lives in a large cage and “it’s never been a problem for other landlords”, but when Long John Silver has gone I quickly Google “are parrots noisy pets?” and the answer is worse than I thought. The Parrot Society says that, depending on their type and size, they vary from “very noisy” to “extremely noisy”. It suggests it would be good manners to ask immediate neighbours if they have any objections.

Other websites are even less complimentary about the vocal abilities of the bird. One says the larger species have “raucous, ear-shattering screams that can be heard from miles away”. Even smaller parrots have “ear-piercing screams”, it warns.

Another website says that “generally, some regular, daily vocalisation is typical for a parrot”.

So that’s why the viewer wanted to know if the neighbours were out all day. He doesn’t want them to hear poor Polly screaming when she’s left all alone. It sounds like the whole street will be able to hear her.

Another problem with pet parrots, I find out, is that they’re inclined to chew the furniture when released for exercise. I don’t want the bed, table and chairs pecked to bits by Polly.

Also, re-letting the flat when the tenant wants to move on might be awkward with a parrot screeching at everyone who comes to look around. God knows what it has in its vocabulary.

Sure enough, Long John calls later in the day to put in an offer. I tell him I’m concerned about his parrot. “Is it noisy during the day?” I ask him. “Only for 15 to 20 minutes at a time,” he says.

I don’t even bother to ask whether he means 15 to 20 minutes every hour or just a few times a day because I just know this bird is going to drive the neighbours nuts. I think I’d rather have a tenant with a dog.

Fortunately for me, both the first and second people to view the flat also put in offers a short while later and I quickly accept a sweet young, pet-free couple, leaving Long John Silver and his parrot to find another nest.

  • Victoria Whitlock lets four properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock


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