In this edition of our 'Five Common… Mistakes' blog series, we're talking about common mistakes landlords, letting agents and tenants make when submitting evidence about a pet living in the property:

1. Missing pet clause

If a landlord or letting agent doesn't allow pets in their property, this should be specified in the tenancy agreement. However, if pets are allowed, this should be reflected within the tenancy agreement with a 'pet clause'. The Dogs Trust provides a suggested template for such a clause: 'It is further agreed between the Landlord and Tenant that the Landlord grants permission for the Tenant to keep a pet {insert animal type and breed} named {insert animal name} ('The Pet') in The Property for the duration of the Tenancy. The Tenant agrees not to keep or permit to be kept on the Property any further pets or animals of any description without the previous consent in writing of the Landlord.'

2. No specially negotiated clause

If a landlord does allow a tenant to keep a pet in the property, it may be helpful to include a specially negotiated clause in the tenancy agreement which sets out any additional responsibilities on the tenant. For example, if the tenant asks to keep a dog in the property, the landlord may wish to include a specially negotiated clause in the tenancy agreement which specifies that this is permitted as long as the property and soft furnishings are professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.

The Dogs Trust also provide guidance on the wording of such clauses: 'The Tenant agrees to pay for the professional cleaning of the property at the end of The Tenancy including the cleaning of all carpets and treating the property for fleas and mites.'

A specially negotiated clause should be signed separately from standard clauses in the tenancy agreement.

3. Not confirming agreement in writing

If the landlord agrees to a pet living in the property during the tenancy, the tenant should ask for this agreement in writing. Whether it's adding an addendum to the tenancy agreement, a signed letter or email from the landlord, it's essential – as with any changes – that this agreed change to the tenancy is put in writing. If there's a dispute at the end of the tenancy, this can be helpful evidence to confirm you had permission to keep a pet.

4. No evidence of financial loss

The landlord or letting agent can't make a deduction simply because there has been a breach of obligation in a tenancy agreement: there must be a financial loss which is supported by evidence. For example, if there is a clause in the tenancy agreement to say the tenant is not allowed to keep pets in the property, the landlord may not necessarily be able to make deductions to the deposit simply because the tenant has kept a pet. There would need to be evidence, for example, that a cat has scratched furniture in the property, and therefore the landlord may wish to make a deduction for damages, using an inventory and check-out report, dated photographs, invoices, etc., to support the amount claimed for.

5. No justification of costs

If there is a financial loss because of a pet living in the property, any invoice or quote provided as evidence should be as detailed as possible, giving a breakdown of the work carried out and the costs incurred. For example, if a dog has caused damage to a garden, a £100 invoice detailing that 'urine burn patches in the lawn were repaired and digging holes in the flower beds filled in' provides a better description of the work needed than a £100 invoice 'for gardening'. Where an invoice is not detailed (including minimal call out or parking charges if applicable) and appears too high for the work required, the adjudicator is likely to reduce the award.

We've also published posts on Five Common Tenancy Agreement Mistakes, Five Common Inventory Mistakes, Five Common Photo Evidence Mistakes, Five Common Communication Mistakes and Five Common Invoice or Quote Mistakes.