Kirsty McLuckie: House buying trends see huge rise in searches for pet-friendly homes

Picture: ShutterstockPicture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock
One of the big trends of house buying over the past year has been the huge rise in searches for pet-friendly homes, for both rental and sales.

While finding a landlord that is willing to allow four-legged family members to move in can be a chore, apparently Scotland is better than other areas of the UK in this regard.

East Ayrshire tops the list with half of its advertised rental properties welcoming dogs, cats, birds or reptiles.

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I’ve never understood the reluctance of landlords to allow pets, particularly in a property with a garden. Certainly, there may be a bit more wear and tear, the odd chewed carpet or scratched table leg, but dedicated pet owners – like parents – don’t like to uproot their charges unnecessarily, and so tenancies are likely to last longer, avoiding expensive empty periods.

But, in the residential sales market, is it possible to make your home more attractive to buyers by making it friendlier to pets?

A well-fenced garden can be a boon for those with a family dog, but a cat flap may be seen as advantageous to some viewers or an unsightly security risk to others.

It is also possible to have a house that is too animal-friendly – and I think I live in one.

Since welcoming our little lockdown “bundle of joy”, Ted the springer spaniel-cross-Labrador puppy in January, we have been attempting to stop him heading into the garden every time the kitchen door is opened.

We are now on our third stairgate, but the aperture is just too wide, and the masonry on either side just too thick to allow secure placement.

Each time we put it back up, we hear a clatter within half an hour as tenacious Ted has escaped again.

One of our elderly rescue hens is equally eager to come in that way.

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A moment’s inattention finds her sitting under the kitchen table, where she once found a stray grape. Evidently, she has a long memory for such sweet things.

The obnoxious cat of the household, meanwhile, is never at the same door twice, and we constantly wander the house trying to find which window ledge she is piteously miaowing from.

But it is not just our own beasts who find the house attractive.

Field mice have to be dissuaded from availing themselves of our hospitality, and this spring we had to evict a couple of blue tits who had got into the oven extractor fan outpipe and were attempting to build a nest. Fortunately, the oven wasn’t on, otherwise their eggs would have been truly cooked.

However, immeasurably worse, was the time we had a kitchen disco interrupted by the alarming spectacle of a blind ram panicking in the middle of the “dance floor”.

Someone – my husband – had opened the door for a “breath of fresh air” and helpfully stepped aside when the stray mutton made a bolt indoors.

It turned out that he belonged to the farmer down the road, and was apparently called Nigel. Whether he was just confused or really enjoyed the music of Chaka Khan we shall never know, but after a tussle, some screaming and a fair bit of broken crockery he was firmly ejected.

Perhaps our next move should be to a pet-restricting and animal-repelling home.

- Kirsty McLuckie is Property Editor at The Scotsman