Why pet-friendly properties confer landlords with a distinct edge

Pets in South Africa are increasingly being treated as part of the family, with owners spending more and aligning their pet’s lifestyle with their own. This is according to Insight Survey’s 2019 South African Pet Care Industry Landscape Report, and yet for many, the biggest challenge is finding pet-friendly homes.

“There are not nearly enough pet-friendly rental properties to meet the high demand as a growing number of landlords and body corporates across the board are adopting a ‘no pet’ policy, even when the home is spacious with large grounds,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“It has also become an issue in the purchase market where we are seeing more and more sectional title and cluster developments imposing an outright ban on pets, severely limiting buyer’s choices, especially in the lower to mid-markets.

“People assume that because the suburbs are traditionally family oriented, there would be more pet-friendly accommodation available but this is simply not the case anymore.

Landlords equating animals with damage

“Densification has led to a growing number of clusters and complexes in suburban areas and even those with homes with small gardens often restrict or ban pets and it seems landlords are increasingly equating animals with damage, and this sometimes even extends to smaller pets like birds.”

However, Geffen says that the decision to not allow pets in a complex or rental property is usually based on envisioned problems rather than actual issues.

“According to a recent American study ‘Companion animal renters and pet-friendly housing in the US’, there is little, if any, difference in damage resulting from tenants with or without pets.

“And, interestingly, the cost of damage from pets was much smaller than the costs associated with tenants with children – and we all know that kids can be a lot noisier than animals.”

Low availability of pet-friendly rental properties

Lorraine-Marie Delbridge, rental manager for the group in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs says that whilst at least 60% of their prospective tenant’s request pet-friendly accommodation, only 20% of their rental properties cater to this need.

“Even in the current market with many more available rental properties, people often continue the search until the 24th hour, but sadly it’s no longer uncommon for desperate home seekers to eventually resort to re-homing or even surrendering their pets when they fail to find pet-friendly accommodation in time.”

She adds that many clusters and complexes have become extremely strict regarding pets and that the few that do allow them have to approve them first which means that agents have to make a plea on the prospective tenant’s behalf, sometimes even having to supply photos.