Since before the beginnings of prehistory, man has lived alongside animals.
From cats guarding the granaries of ancient Egypt to the legendary geese, whose midnight honking alerted proto Roman settlers of nearby raiders, the relationship is one of trust, companionship, and security.
Some of the oldest human footprints in existence are those of a young child exploring the Chauvet cave system in France 26,000 years ago. And side by side with the human prints are those of a dog.
When the Vikings colonised Greenland more than 1,000 years ago, skeletal remains show that the last things the intrepid settlers consumed before falling to starvation was their faithful pets.
And up until the second world war when tens of thousands of pets were killed by their owners, fearful of them running wild in the expected bombing, having a dog in the house was as English as drinking tea, beating your spouse, and dying of excessive gin consumption.
It was unthinkable that a landlord would prohibit their tenants from having animals in the house, and it would be baffling that they would even want to try.
These days, a ‘no pets’ rule is standard in most tenancy agreements. What the hell happened?
Maybe with the advent of indoor plumbing, wall to wall carpets and central heating, there was an expectation of cleanliness and hygiene which didn’t really exist before. Dogs roll in other animals’ animals faeces, and have no qualms about spreading the filth over your £10 / square yard carpet. It’s not ideal.
Perhaps it’s that cats tend to bring dead mice into the house and leave them hidden behind curtains, under beds, and on top of kitchen units.
It could even be that many owners tend to bury their beloved animals in the back garden. After a few decades, there’ll be nothing but feline skeletons under the lawn, which are then dug up and dragged into the living room by the latest pooch.
And then there’s the fact that both adults in a household usually work. Dogs left alone all day can do tremendous damage to furniture, doors, and carpets.
But really what’s the harm?
As a landlord, you have the responsibility to keep your property in generally good order – but so does your tenant. That’s why you take a deposit.
If you have to change the carpet every six months, that’s going to be a big deal. A really big deal. But the chances of you actually needing to do that are minimal.
The likelihood is that your tenant is going to be staying in the house for several years at least. If their dog or cat ruins the rugs, you would have needed to replace them at this point anyway. If you expect your tenant to leave within six months or a year, you have bigger issues anyway.
If you’re genuinely worried that a tenant’s animals will wreck the place, you could always ask for a bigger deposit against damage, or build extra clauses into the tenancy agreement to deal with the worst case scenarios.
Almost 50% of households in the UK have pets, and you can bet that most of the rest would do if they were allowed.
Because animals are a basic human need, and you really should remember that while the property may be your house, it’s your tenants’ home. And they’re a lot more likely to stay there if they feel that it genuinely is.
Photo credit: LuAnn Snawdar Photography