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Paws for controversy - government wants pet-friendly tenancy contracts

The controversial subject of pet-friendly tenancies has been grabbed by the scruff of the neck by the government.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has rewritten the standard tenancy contract it recommends for agents and landlords, to include pet-friendly elements. 

It means renters with what are described as “well-behaved pets” will be able to secure tenancies more easily - if that standard contract is used by landlords or their agents, it will no longer be possible to insert a blanket ban on pets.

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Instead consent for pets will be the default position, and agents or landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.

MHCLG claims that currently just seven per cent of private rental properties are advertised as pet-friendly meaning many people with cats, dogs or other companions struggle to find suitable homes. 

In some cases, this has meant people have had to give up their pets all together.

Now the government has acted following research suggesting that more than half of adults in the United Kingdom own a pet with many more welcoming pets into their lives during the pandemic. 

Under the new agreement, rejections should only be made where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical. 

To ensure landlords are protected, tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property, the group says.

 

 

“We are a nation of animal lovers and over the last year more people than ever before have welcome pets into their lives and homes” says Housing Minister Chris Pincher.

“But it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.

“Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords. 

“This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”

Mark Hayward, ARLA Propertymark’s, chief policy adviser, says: “Whilst we acknowledge that allowing pets can make a property more desirable and encourage tenants to rent for longer, even the best-behaved pets will have an impact on a property.

"The government must recognise the impact of their decision to cap deposits and the knock-on costs that landlords face. 

“This is a complex issue that is determined on a case-by-case basis highlighting the need for landlords to get advice from a professional letting agent.”

You can see the new model tenancy contract here.

  • icon

    No way on this earth will I have tenants with pets
    I have had 3 "pet" tenants in the past, and I will refuse to take any more of their (literally) SHIT!
    And I will have in my contract too that if they later have pets, then they will very impolitely be removed by some blokes I know down in the East End.

    How can this ever become a "right" of tenancy?

  • SCN Lettings

    Another nail in the coffin of the private rental sector, reduced properties to let as landlords exit the sector. Tax increases, EPC changes, deposit limits, and now forcing landlords to take pets. They reap what they sow.

  • James B

    As far as I read this makes no difference to landlords declining pets .. sounds like their change to their template tenancy that nobody uses is just a token gesture to sell to the tenants as a big step forward

    Algarve  Investor

    That's what I thought. But the assumed right is coming with Andrew Rosindell's Bill, about to reach its Second Reading in the Commons and with cross-party and public support.

    That will be much harder to ignore and makes pets in rental properties much more of an inevitably, whether landlords like it or not.

    I'm sure this is not the last we've heard of the issue, though, with many landlords so unhappy about the move.

    I wonder how it's worked for all the BTR schemes which make a virtue of being pet-friendly. Have they suffered any damage to their interiors? Or problem with noise and other things? Even if they have, I'm absolutely sure they won't be making that public.

    There must be some landlords out there who allow pets and make it work, so maybe other landlords can learn from them. But I can absolutely see why landlords don't want to take the risk with pets in homes because of all the risks attached. Higher rents could arguably be charged, but the ability to charge a higher deposit is no longer on the table.

    Maybe asking for some kind of insurance as standard is the way forward, with the tenant needing to meet these costs - as well as showing they are responsible and their pet is, too.

     
    Matthew Payne

    Agree James, the new wording is deliberately loose to allow HMG to be seen to be trying to do something, while at the same time as allowing landlords to provide "a reason" for not allowing pets. Just a bit of politcal pressure is all. Mine will be, "you are only putting down a 5 week deposit, which will cover very little remedial cleaning, repairs or redecoration, so I am not prepared to take that risk."

    There is no way with lenders, freeholders, insurers, other residents in the equation that the government could legally force a landlord to accept large pets, anymore than they currently force landlords to accept any other idiosyncrasies of tenants.

     
  • Raphael Phillips

    There is no way I could force my landlords to take pets if they don't want to.
    And if I was to push on them they would simply find another agent that would do as requested.
    Surely it's the landlords choice. How can you prove a well-behaved pet. It could be good one day and a nightmare the next. Nonsense.

  • icon

    I notice no mention by MHCLG of changing the deposit legislation to allow for a pet deposit. The government really are clueless.

    I have had a tenant in a semi-detached for seven years and she had a dog. She left only because I have now sold the property. The property was left clean, tidy, no damage and no smell so it can work.

    PS: Cue the horror stories in reply! No need, I am aware that I was fortunate.

  • icon
    • S S
    • 29 January 2021 12:09 PM

    Many pet owners are responsible. My daughter (a medical student) had a clause in her agreement that a pet would not be unreasonably refused. She asked for permission for a hamster....it was refused! Beacuse the LL didn't allow it.
    For her own mental health, having and caring for a hamster helped her. Fortunately she moved in with a friend who owned the house and had no issues. The hamster did not cause any damage. As long as people understand and perhaps sign an undertaking that they are responsible for any damage (above wear and tear) then I would expect the majority of cases would have no issues. If LL want decent tenants who stay for long periods, then allowing pets to be the default setting may be a positive step.

  • Sebastian Tiplea

    They are part of our life, it would make sense.

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