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Pet-friendly tenancies could make landlords go walkies -  claim

Pet-friendly tenancies of the kind envisaged by the government could oblige some private landlords to quit the sector, it’s claimed.

Over the New Year Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that he would overhaul the model tenancy contract to make it easier for tenants to have pets.

At the time the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said more young people and families than ever before were renting and should be able to enjoy the happiness that a pet can bring to their lives. 


It added that only around seven per cent of rental properties were currently advertised as suitable for pets, meaning many people struggled to find a home suitable for themselves and their animals. 

But now a new property litigation firm - Hagen Wolf - is reminding the industry that as the contract is not mandatory, the announcement has no basis in law and landlords can refuse tenants permission for pets.

Matt Pugh, managing partner of the new firm, says that although RSPCA figures show 44 per cent of households in the UK own a pet, landlords remain wary of damage being caused which the deposit (limited by the Tenant Fees Act 2019) would not always cover.

"There has already been a cap imposed by the government on being able to charge tenants five weeks' rent as a deposit. It has resulted in many landlords flatly refusing to accept pet-owning tenants as the amount does not cover damage caused by their animals, leading to an uncertain future for many pets. Blocks of flats also often have restrictions on accepting pets, which would make any implementation of this kind of law very difficult” he says.

Under the proposed changes it could also become harder for pet owners to find suitable accommodation, as property landlords and letting agents could previously ask for a higher deposit to cover any damage.

Pugh fears that an additional expectation on landlords may lead to more exiting the private rental sector, as has already been suggested could be happening as a result of several tax changes.

“Property owners need to be clear with tenants from the start on their policy on pet ownership in their properties and reach a mutual agreement which doesn't contravene the conditions of the tenancy or leave them out of pocket due to animals damaging the property” explains Pugh.  

Poll: Pet-Friendly Contracts: are your clients helping tenants keep pets?


  • Matthew Payne

    I'm not sure why Mr Jenrick thinks that everyone uses this model agreement anyway, and even the minority that do, will simply continue to use the old version or amend the new one to remove any bits they don't agree with. I don't quite understand why he thinks amending a template on gov.uks website that almost no landlord agrees with will lead to any practical change in whether pets are permitted.

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    A blanket ban on pets in a tenancy agreement is one of the examples of an unfair term and it is suggested that the clause reads similar to, "Will not keep any animal without the written permission of the landlord which shall not unreasonably be withheld".

    Obviously consent can be reasonably witheld if a head lease bans pets, as is the case with two on my flats, or if the landlord is letting their own home with the intention of returning and has a pet fur allergy.

    Sadly, as it typical with the Government, thy went vote chasing rather than listen to those who had knowledge of the industry. It would have been and still is, so easy to add the creatoion of a separate pet deposit of two or three weeks rent.

    It would be the sensible thing to do, so of course they won't do it.

    Matthew Payne

    That wording doesn't reflect in most TAs now and I can't see them passing legislation to say that all LLs and agents have to use the model agreement or their chosen wording.

    Even if they did, it is perfectly reasonable for a landlord to deny consent to preserve the condition of their property, or want to avoid the costs to remedy. If the premise of Mr Jenricks' strategy is that "well behaved" cats and dogs like unicorns actually exist and should always be given consent, then he will need to come up with some way of a tenant being able to prove that. Animal referencing perhaps. As we know they can't as animals by defintion behave like animals and create damage and high wear and tear, then the only way forward is a pet deposit as you suggest and as most have concurred.

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    We should be wary of RSPCA figures because they have been show to be dodgy in the past and generally only show what the RSPCA is willing to prove. I don't take deposits anyway, I require 2 property owning guarantors who pass credit reference checks. Any problems straight back to the guarantor.

    On the subject of guarantors, if the RSPCA and other animal charities are so keen on landlords allowing pets (I do) why don't they offer to underwrite any damage caused by pets since they all seem to have plenty of money judging by their chief executives salaries?

    jeremy clarke

    Claire, I agree re the underwriting by these charities. The same applies to shelter who bang on all day about terrible landlords but never mention bad tenants. if bad tenants do not exist why don't shelter step up to the plate as guarantors?

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    • 10 February 2020 13:48 PM

    Bad tenants cause over £9 billion of losses to LL every year.
    Who would want to underwrite those sort of losses!?
    Currently the LL does.
    Mostly caused by rent default.
    If LL could boot out rent defaulting tenants very quickly such losses would massively reduce.
    But of course no Govt will want to be seen to assist LL in booting out wrongun tenants.
    So it is LL that have to suffer such losses which will continue unless the eviction process is radically reformed.
    So sign of that occurring because if it occurred the Councils would be faced with millions turning up for TA.
    Currently it is the LL that is forced to provide free accommodation while the eviction process wends its slow and tortuous progress.
    There is no way Govt will socialise private LL losses.
    So LL must expect to suffer the same billions of losses evey year.
    It is a massive business risk which LL should be mindful of.
    Nobody will assist the LL to prevent losses from bad tenants.
    LL just need to consider very carefully whether it is worth risking letting to those riskier tenant demographics knowing that if it all goes wrong they WILL experience a long and expensive eviction process.
    Too few LL appreciate these risks.
    If they did many wouldn't even bother becoming LL.
    Having pets that destroy a place is really the final agony!

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    7% of tenants have pets so landlord's can easily choose one of the remaining 93% as their tenant. It is not compulsory for a landlord to take any tenant so where is the problem?


    The problem is created because people in short term lets get pets and then can't find a new let that will take their pets. So they take them to animal charities. The animal charities, despite their names, don't really take in unwanted animals. The RSPCA doesn't take owner surrendered animals for instance. And so the charities are creating stink about it. Not sure why they are collecting for animals but there you go.

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    • 10 February 2020 16:04 PM

    It is a crying shame that due to stupid Govt regulation so many LL have to stop allowing tenants to have pets.
    Stupid deposit restrictions caused by the likes of Shelter etc.
    Responsible for many pets being put down.
    No way can Govt force LL to allow pets and no way it is an unfair contractual term.
    Can't wait for the 1st court case which states no pets is an unfair AST term.
    It is well known that the lower class tenants mostly on HB do love a pit- bull which loves to chew things to pieces.
    So even fewer LL will let to DSS if pets cannot be excluded.
    Most normal tenants not on welfare DON'T have dogs because they go to work.
    You can't leave a dog on it's own all day.
    That is just plain cruel.
    But of course welfare scroungers have all day as they don't bother working.


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