Pets and a rental home

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Here’s what can you do to ensure you and your animals remain on the good side of your landlord.

Owning pets and renting don't necessarily go hand in hand and there are an increasing number of landlords who refuse to allow animals on the rental premises. There's no doubt that this is a major concern because most of us love our pets and the idea that we may have to find them new homes when we move is, for most of us, too awful to contemplate.

There are of course various reasons that animals are banned from rental premises. In the case of sectional title units it may be that the body corporate has a blanket ban on pets. As far as freestanding homes go, it may just be a case of the landlord being wary of his property being damaged by animals.

To be fair, animals - dogs in particular - can cause mayhem in a home and untold damage to the property and the garden if left to their own devices. So, if you’ll pardon the pun, it's often a case of once bitten, twice shy when it comes to landlords allowing pets on their rental premises. A landlord who has already had a bad experience with a tenant’s pets is highly unlikely to revisit his policy on allowing animals on the property, regardless of how many reassurances he receives that the new tenant’s pets are the very model of good behaviour and obedience.

So what can you do to ensure you and your animals remain on the good side of your landlord?

Firstly, if the lease is silent on the point, don't assume it's a given that pets are allowed - ask if you may bring your animals into the home. Remember that even if the landlord is amenable to the idea, this doesn't mean you may abuse this by turning the home into some sort of animal rescue shelter, providing a home for dozens of dogs and cats in the process. Again, ask upfront how many pets may be kept.

Those who are considering buying a puppy after they've moved in should conduct some research about the various breeds before making a decision. For example, Labradors, although fantastic pets, tend to be very destructive in their formative years and can (and often do) cause a great deal of damage to a home. Likewise, Jack Russells and other terriers are regarded as hunters and while this may be great in the ‘wild outdoors’ they can destroy a lawn in a matter of days. Yappy dogs and animals which wander can also be a problem, particularly if the neighbours start voicing their displeasure to the landlord after their rubbish bin has been upended for the umpteenth time.

Keep a close eye on your animals and repair any damage as soon as it occurs. Think about taking your dogs for training. Although this won't necessarily stop all the shenanigans, it will teach the animal to listen and obey commands. Keep the garden as clean as possible by picking up faeces on a regular basis.

Consider spaying your pets to ensure that your house doesn't become an attraction for every dog or tom cat in the neighbourhood every time your pet comes into season.

Keeping animals can be very rewarding and as far as security goes, can be a lifesaver. However, allowing your animals to destroy a home because you're not paying attention is going to lead to big problems and could result in the landlord cancelling a lease agreement or insisting that a higher deposit is paid in order to cover any potential damage which will have to be repaired once you move.

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