The Secret Life of Pets: Why More Renters Than You Think Are Hiding Their Pets

24 Jan 2022 Alex

It’s been a year since the UK Government introduced the new Model Tenancy Agreement to give tenants more freedom to rent a home with their furry friends. Our neighbourhood in Wembley Park has always been pet-friendly, and we’re happily on hand to offer advice and support on renting with pets. That’s why we wanted to explore the full scale of that impact, and see what it’s really like for tenants renting with pets in the UK.

Before the agreement came into place, just 7% of rental properties in the UK were advertised as being pet-friendly. The Model Tenancy Agreement now prevents landlords from “issu[ing] a blanket ban on pets” as was previously the case. However, a lifetime of being barred from keeping animals at home continues to have a profound effect on how people approach renting with pets.

We conducted a survey of over 1,000 Brits with pets to get a clear picture of the challenges they face simply for having an animal in their rented home - and, in some cases, the lengths they’ve had to go to in order to keep their furry friends a secret from their landlord.

The Secret Life of Pet Owners

Renting with pets in the UK - statistics 1


Age groups who experienced difficulty finding a place to rent as pet owners



Renting with pets in the UK - statistics 2


According to our study, nearly a third of Brits have been hiding their pets for over three years - no small amount of time when you consider the average lifespan of most common household pets - and this can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of animals and their owners. 21% of men and 17% of women we surveyed said that keeping their pets hidden has had a negative impact on their mental health. What’s more, 17% of respondents said that they have considered giving up on their furry friend altogether in order to find somewhere to live.

“3 in 10 of those asked said that they would be able to rent a nicer property if they didn’t have a pet to begin with.”

That’s completely understandable when you consider that nearly 40% of pet owners find it difficult to ask permission from their landlord to keep their pets at home in the first place - despite the fact the law is now officially on their side!

Our survey also found that the key things pet owners look for when finding somewhere new to live are larger properties, easy access to parks and green spaces, gardens and understanding landlords - all of which are available in abundance across all of our Wembley Park apartments.

Hidden Critters - the Most Commonly Concealed Pets

Pets that are being hidden from landlords


You might think that most of the people responding to our survey would be concerned about keeping their cats or dogs secret from their landlords, simply because they’re the most common household pets. Think again.


  • According to our study, only 28% and 27% of dog and cat owners (respectively) keep their four-legged friends secret from their landlords. Maybe it’s because of how many people have dogs and cats that the country’s landlords are actually far more accepting of tenants having them in their properties.
  • The most secret pets in the UK are actually... birds.

“A staggering 50% of respondents who keep birds have admitted that their landlord has absolutely no idea about what they have flying around their flat.”

  • Rabbits are in second place, cited by 43% of people who own them.
  • A truly unexpected animal finds itself coming in third place - horses, according to a third of their owners. We’re as stumped and fascinated as you are.
  • Rounding out the list, with 23% and 22% respectively, are fish and hamsters.

How do renters hide their pets?

How pet owners hide their pets


Among the animal lovers we asked, there was an array of ways in which they choose to keep their pets hidden from their landlords during inspections.

  • Most common, with 35% of the vote, was simply taking their four-legged friend for a walk.
  • 32% of those surveyed asked a friend to look after it during the inspection, and a further 19% rely on their neighbours.
  • More interestingly still, 9% of the people we surveyed chose to disguise their pet, a cohort we assume would include some enterprising horse owners.

How long do renters spend hiding their pets?

How much time pet owners spend on hiding their pets


It wasn’t just a case of which pets get hidden, and how, but how long pet owners spend concealing their four-legged or feathered friends. The range is staggering, with residents of the three B’s - Belfast, Bristol and Brighton - spending the least amount of time hiding their pets, at an average of 21 and 26 minutes respectively.

London’s pet owners find themselves devoting just over 2 and a half hours to hiding their pets for each inspection. At 4 hours 45 minutes, the city where people spend the most time concealing their pets is Plymouth.

Pets and the City - the Best and Worst Places for Pet Owners in the UK

The most pet-friendly cities


Cities with the most pet-friendly landords


Our study shows that the most pet-friendly city in the UK is Brighton, with Edinburgh ranking a respectable second place. However, those same Brightonians and Edinburghians also said that their landlords were considerably less likely to allow pets than other cities in the UK - which makes pet ownership a doddle for houseowners in the area but more challenging for renters. The good people of Norwich said that their landlords were most understanding, with 96% calling them “pet-friendly”.

Where are renters most likely to give up their pets?

Cities where pet owners are considering to give up their pets in order to find somewhere to rent


If you’re a renter who is feeling the pressure, it’s as understandable as it is tragic that you might feel left with no choice but to find a new home for your pet before you find one for yourself. While there are fortunately not that many people we surveyed who had to do this, there were plenty who were giving some serious thought to parting with their pet.

Top of the list, with 26% of respondents, was Birmingham, while 23% and 21% of people in Brighton and London said they have also considered giving up a pet to improve their chances of finding a new place to live.

So... what have we learned?

One year on from the change in legislation, pet owners are still finding it a challenge to find a suitable place to rent. All around the UK landlords are showing reticence to house pets, which is leading to renters who bend the rules.  We need to address the elephant in the room (… or should that be a horse?).

If you’re looking to find an apartment to rent in London that definitely will accommodate your animals, why not get in touch with Quintain Living? Our apartments are all within a short walk of green spaces, and our team will be on hand to help you find somewhere to live that meets the needs of you and your pets.

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