An inventory supplier to the lettings industry is advising agents to make sure they spot early signs of pet damage in properties.
The call comes as the pro-pet lobby is building momentum with demands for more landlords and agents to permit dogs, cats and other domestic animals in rental properties.
The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill, which proposes to make it a right for tenants to have domestic animals in rental properties, is currently awaiting its second reading as it moves through Parliament.
And early this year the government announced that it had rewritten its model standard tenancy agreement to include more 'pet-friendly' elements, making it easier for tenants to be able to keep 'well-behaved' pets - although it is not mandatory for agents or landlords to use this tenancy agreement.
No Letting Go, the UK's largest provider of inventory services, has identified a range of specific issues to watch for if their tenants have pets.
These include cat flaps being fitted to doors and claw marks on doors, which are usually caused when dogs are excited to go out. Meanwhile, cats are more likely to be responsible for torn and frayed carpets at the bottom of stairs.
There’s also a need to monitor for pet urine on the carpet which can seep through and damage the underlay if not dealt with properly. And pet hairs are also commonly found on the back of curtains and blinds by inventory clerks carrying out property visits, No Letting Go reveals.
"As the demand for pet tenancies rises and the government aims to make it easier for renters to keep animals, agents and landlords need to have the measures in place to deal with the increased risk of property damage" explains Nick Lyons, founder and chief executive of No Letting Go.
"If managed effectively, allowing tenants to keep pets can encourage longer tenancies, increase demand for available properties and pave the way for higher average rents. However, if pet tenancies are mishandled, landlords may have to foot the bill for thousands of pounds of repairs, while agents’ chances of retaining management of a property could be jeopardised" he says.
Lyons says that while there are currently no rules to stop landlords and their agents from banning pets in properties, support for allowing pets appears to be growing.
"With this in mind, it's time for letting agents and landlords to start preparing for a more pet-friendly private rental sector by making sure they have the right insurance in place, compile a detailed inventory and monitor damage through regular property inspections" he says.
Lyons adds that the combination of a comprehensive inventory and regular inspections can help property professionals to prove damage caused by pets, as well as monitoring whether they can be deemed 'well-behaved'.
"There is no option to charge higher deposits for tenants with pets due to the Tenant Fees Act, so having a range of additional protective measures and procedures in place is absolutely vital to protect rental properties in the event that a tenant has pets" he concludes.