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.