The accidental landlord: I’d be barking mad to take on dog owners

The accidental landlord goes through the pros and cons of renting a flat to canine-loving tenants, and comes to a swift conclusion.
Almost half the enquiries I’ve received about my one-bedroom flat have been from tenants with dogs. It’s odd because I’ve never been asked to house pets before, but now three come along at once.
 
So far I’ve turned away an English springer spaniel, a whippet and a Labrador.
 
Their owners were fine, they all seemed like thoroughly nice people, but I’m gobsmacked that any of them thought my flat would provide practical accommodation for their pets. It would be fine for a goldfish or maybe a hamster, but a large dog, I ask you, what were they thinking?
 
I mean, apart from the fact that it’s in a very built-up part of London, my flat doesn’t have a garden. As the nearest green space is a 10-minute trot away, where on earth would their dogs exercise and do “stuff”?
 
At first I thought the springer spaniel might be okay, purely because it was the smallest of the bunch, but when I Googled the breed I discovered that they are “very playful and energetic and need lots of exercise”.
 
Blimey. The last thing I wanted was a demented dog scampering up and down on the bare wooden floors in my flat, irritating the tenants below.
 

I really liked the couple with the Labrador, but when a friend showed me how her own one-year-old labradoodle had clawed its way through her polished wooden floors I went off it. The last time I had the floors re-sanded and varnished it cost almost two grand.
 
However, I did feel sorry for the Labrador owners because they were getting quite desperate to find somewhere to live as so many landlords had already turned them down. They offered to pay a higher deposit “to put my mind at rest” and they said they could get a reference for the dog from their existing landlord, though I thought there was a danger that he might say the old Lab was adorable just to get rid of it.
 
The couple also suggested I inserted a “pet clause” in the lease agreement, which would make them responsible for any damage the dog caused (including scratched floors), plus they offered to pay for any additional cleaning at the end of the tenancy to get rid of all its hairs.
 
Even landlords who like pets are often reluctant to accommodate them, particularly in flats, because of restrictions in their lease, or out of respect for the neighbours. My lease states that no pets are allowed on the property, but as I was aware that some of the other occupants have acquired cats, despite the ban, I asked them if they’d mind me letting to the couple with the Labrador.
 
Yes, they said, they did mind. “How about a whippet?” I tried, when approached by a couple with one and swore it was so docile because it was “almost always” asleep.
 
The other residents weren’t too keen on that, either. The neighbours’ main concern was that it would bark when left alone while the owners were at work. “Oh no, he never barks when we’re out,” said the whippet owners. “How would you know?” I asked.
 
In the end, I turned all the dog owners away because I had to agree with the other residents — taking in dogs was too much of a risk.
 
However, if you know someone with a goldfish, I’d happily accommodate them. 
  • Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock

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