Bunnies and kittens and puppies, oh my! Ever since the new standard tenancy agreement in 2021 made it easier for tenants with pets to rent properties, there has been increasing pressure on the UK government to do more for pet lovers.
Now landlords are left to determine why this has happened and what it means for them. Keep reading if you want all the details on pets in lets.
The current standard
In 2021, the rental sector saw a new Model Tenancy Agreement, which made it much easier for tenants with pets to move into rented accommodation and for existing tenants to be allowed to bring a new pet into their current property.
Blanket bans on pets were no more, and landlords had just 28 days to give a written refusal to tenant pet requests. This refusal had to be for a good reason, meaning that well-behaved pets were implicitly covered by the new standard.
At the moment, there isn’t a legal requirement for landlords to use this standard tenancy agreement, so most tenants aren’t covered by its terms. In 2023, just 7% of landlords list their properties as pet-friendly.
The legal standing of pets
Renters with pets don’t enjoy legal protections. In February 2023, Dogs Trust and Cats Protection released a joint statement talking about the issue.
In 2022, Dogs Trust said that the increased pressure on renters caused by the cost of living crisis was one of the main reasons people rehomed their dogs. Cats Protection said that in 2022 it was given 1,300 cats – the equivalent of at least three every day of the year – specifically because their owners were moving into rentals where the landlords did not allow pets.
The Government has outlined plans to add protections for pet-owning tenants in its upcoming Renters Reform bill.
Two legs good, four legs better
In the A Fairer Rented Sector white paper, the Government outlined upcoming legislation to ensure that landlords “do not unreasonably withhold consent when a tenant requests to have a pet in their home, with the tenant able to challenge a decision”.
Pets aren’t the norm in rentals at the moment, but that won’t be the case for long. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home found that 76% of tenants either own a pet or want to, and Rightmove saw a 120% increase in searches for pet-friendly properties in 2021. If this renters reform comes into law, we could see the average number of legs in UK households slowly growing from two to three.
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