BTR News Build to Rent (BTR)

Pet-friendly rental searches spike to record levels post-lockdown

Online searches for pet-friendly UK rental property have spiked post-lockdown to the highest level since available records began in 2004.

Search queries for ‘pet friendly rentals’, ‘pet friendly apartments’ and ‘pet friendly’ in the real estate category have all increased dramatically since lockdown ended, according to Google Trends. Two pet-friendly rental development operators also say that as many as one in every three of recent enquiries has been from pet owners.

Many residents – especially those living in cities – can struggle to find rented accommodation that will allow pets. Research by the Dogs Trust found that 78% of pet owners experienced difficulties finding a pet-friendly rental property, and pet owners can take up to seven times longer to rent a home compared with non-pet-owners. 

Pet-friendly online rental searches from 2004.
Pet-friendly online rental searches from 2004.

“We moved to London from Dublin in August, which was quite a challenge during a pandemic, but Fizzy has made it so easy for us. We have quite a few pets so the fact that they are so welcome here was the top decision-making factor. We’ve definitely found finding pet-friendly accommodation a major problem previously as there aren’t many options comparable to Fizzy.”

Laura and Kevin, Residents at Fizzy Hayes with their two 4-year-old black cats, Dali & Orange, 3-year-old tortoiseshell cat, Jellybean, and Harley, their 2-year-old Golden Retriever.

Pet-friendly Build to Rent operators

Being pet-friendly is one of the key facilities offered by the most successful Build to Rent developments – schemes specifically designed for tenants. The HomeViews Build to Rent Report 2020 found that all ten of the highest-rated Build to Rent developments were pet-friendly, whereas most BTS developments were not.

As a result, many Build to Rent schemes are able to fill the gaps in the market left by private landlords who are unwilling to allow pets in their properties. Lockdown appears to have brought into focus the importance of things like owning pets for tenants who are rethinking their priorities.

Build to Rent operator Fizzy Living describes itself as ‘London’s most pet-friendly landlord’, with 30% of its residents owning at least one pet. The company’s buildings even feature pet stations stocked with bags, paw wipes and treats, and staff are encouraged to bring their pets to work on designated days.

“1 in 3 enquiries we receive are from pet owners, and certainly over recent months, animals have been lifelines for so many. Owning pets is proven to provide so many benefits to both physical and mental health, and we don’t see why living in rented accommodation should be an obstacle to that.”

Harry Downes, Managing Director, Fizzy Living

Pet-friendly Build to Rent operator – Get Living – operates two London developments and one in Manchester. The company has welcomed the surge in demand for pet-friendly rental properties.

“Looking at new enquiries received during and post-lockdown, being pet-friendly has certainly climbed the list of customers’ priorities – in addition to outdoor space and reliable WiFi. Across our three neighbourhoods, we’re finding 15-20% of potential customers mention pets specifically as part of their requirements. Since 1 June, our New Maker Yards site in Manchester received 80+ enquiries on pets alone.”

Ian Gibbs, Director of Neighbourhoods, Get Living

Pet stats

Residents at New Maker Yards show a preference for dogs, with 15% of homes including a canine companion. Breeds range from Siberian Husky to Cavapoos, Miniature Dachshunds and Sprockers, while a number of cats and a couple of rabbits (Willow and Pepper) are also celebrated residents.

Meanwhile, Get Living’s London development – Elephant Central – shows a 50/50 split between cats and dogs. Smaller breeds of dog were favoured at this site due to its central Zone 1 location.

“The best thing and which was what made me decide to move was the property accepting dogs, I was trying to find a new apartment dog friendly and it is impossible in London, good for Get Living as they found some very good tenants who had no other options in town.”

Verified Resident, Elephant Central, Get Living

70% of pets living in Fizzy developments are dogs, with breeds ranging from French Bulldogs and Pugs to Pomeranians. The developments are also home to cats, birds, turtles and even a chinchilla. Fizzy Lewisham is the company’s most pet-friendly building, with 50% of residents owning a pet, followed by Fizzy Hayes with 30%.

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