Companionship in the form of a pet is something millions across the country can relate to.
Many are familiar with the feeling that our pets are a member of the family, thus finding suitable accommodation is of the upmost importance. According to Rightmove, demand for pet friendly property listings increased by 120% as of July 2021 compared to July 2020, however a mere 7% of landlords advertised as pet friendly as of January 2021.
According to a survey of 1000 tenants by the Deposit Protection Services, 30% of respondents moving property between October 2021 and March 2022 stated that accommodating their pet was the most influential factor in their decisions. This then means pet owners interested in renting have the pet factor to consider when deciding on a property rental.
Pets are certainly a controversial subject in the world of property rentals and management, mainly due to them being seen as guaranteed damage and future cost. In previous years, landlords had the authority to refuse tenants with pets from renting, as well as being able to place a blanket ban on renting with pets, making life increasingly difficult for animal owners.
However, this restrictive authority for landlords is slowly becoming a thing of the past due to changes being made by the government, which are aimed at helping to accommodate pet owners into the world of property renting.
New Model Tenancy Agreement
As of January 2021, the UK government released a new model tenancy agreement relating to the private rental sector, in which the details regarding tenancies with pets have been updated. The agreement is particularly suitable for those entering a longer-term tenancy of 2 years and over. The new model agreement is aimed at encouraging an open mind towards landlords accepting pets, including the eradication of blanket bans on pets. An important fact to note however, is that tenants do not have an unconditional right to keep their pet at the property without the landlord’s consent.
Under the new agreement, by default, tenants requests surrounding pets are not allowed to be refused unreasonably. The landlord’s written objection to pet requests will be required within 28 days should the landlord have any objections to pets taking up residence with tenants.
The landlord must provide adequate justification for their decision, for example owning a large dog within a particularly small property which is not suitable for the pet.
As stated in the new model tenancy agreement, “The landlord should accept such a request where they are satisfied the Tenant is a responsible pet owner and the pet is of a kind that is suitable in relation to the nature of the premises at which it will be kept.”
An important factor to consider is the default acceptance is only applicable to responsible pet owners, and proof must be provided in the form of:
- Worming and flea treatment
- Basic training
- Proof of vaccinations
Tenants will still have a continued legal obligation to cover the costs of any damage to the property caused by the pet.
It is important however to note this agreement is only recommended by the government for landlords to use, and there is no legal obligation to use it.
Renters Reform Bill proposal
First announced by Theresa May in 2019, then via a white paper, published on the 16th June 2022, the Renters Reform Bill’s central focus is to create a fairer private rented sector by introducing new plans to abolish Section 21. Plans surrounding pet ownership and renting properties are amongst those topics of discussion.
In similar fashion to the new model tenancy agreement, the proposed Renters Reform Bill plans to allow pet-owning tenants to request permission from the landlord to keep a pet at the property throughout the tenancy. Landlords will have the ability to refuse a tenant to house the pet within the property, providing they state adequate reasoning as to why. Should the landlord come to the decision to refuse the pet, under the proposed bill, tenants will have the ability to challenge this decision.
Alongside this, the proposed bill plans to amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to implement pet insurance as a permitted payment, thus meaning the property will be protected against damages through requiring tenants to take out pet insurance. In previous years pre-dating the Tenant Fee Act 2019, landlords had the ability to increase the tenancy deposit in order to cover any potential damage resulting from a pet living in the property. Now being banned from doing so due to the passing of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, the new bill aims to ease landlords’ concerns surrounding costs of damages to the property through pet insurance requirements. In turn, this would hopefully make pet-owning tenancies more appealing to landlords in the future, thus widening their tenant opportunities and portfolio potential.
*Disclaimer: please note this blog is only intended as a guide, and is not to be taken as legal advice*