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Why landlords might be changing their "no pet" rules

Why landlords might be changing their "no pet" rules

If you are a renter who is desperate for a pet, good news might be on the horizon! Pet product provider Johnson's shares what the Renter's Bill could mean for tenants' right to have a pet

The Renters (Reform) Bill made its debut in Parliament on May 17, 2023, aiming to overhaul the current legislation set in place to govern the private rental sector. Its proposed changes, should they come to fruition, will have a substantial impact on tenancy conduct and termination methods.  

"There are several policies designed to give renters' rights for owning pets"

While much of the noise is currently focussing on the proposed abolition of "No-Fault Evictions", and the introduction of a central database on which all landlords must be registered, there are also several policies designed to give renters' rights for owning pets—effectively banning landlords from enforcing "no pet" rules on their properties.

The barrier renting imposes on pet ownership 

With more than 4.6 million private renters in England (equating to 23 per cent of households), landlords have always held the power to decide whether or not their tenants can keep pets—a fact that's disheartening for those who love furry friends.  

Despite the demand for rental properties more than doubling in the last 20 years, a mere 7 per cent of the UK’s 2.6 million private landlords are reportedly willing to allow animals as part of their rental agreement, making it difficult for renters, struggling in the current cost-of-living crisis, to find a pet-friendly place to call home.

dog lying on a sofa - why landlords might be changing their "no pets" rule

There is a scarcity of pet-friendly housing

Where apartments are concerned, there is a severe scarcity of pet-friendly housing. Dogs and cats were prohibited in 40 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, of rented apartments, which make up 64 per cent of all the homes in the UK rental sector. 

Of course, there will be those who have taken matters into their own hands. Mars Petcare recently reported that because of existing restrictions, 1 in 10 pet-owning tenants are currently hiding an animal from their landlord. Whilst on the face of it, this might seem like a small "untruth", of those that were eventually caught out for having lied about keeping an animal in contradiction to their rental terms, 22 per cent were evicted. 

"Of course, there will be those who have taken matters into their own hands"

Major charities have identified one of the most typical reasons why people surrender their pets for adoption as being unable to find rental properties that permit pets. According to the most recent figures from organisations like the Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, one in ten of the animals they get fit this description.  

The issue of pet owners being displaced from their homes due to rising rent has reached a critical tipping point in 2023. With rental costs skyrocketing across the country, many pet owners are faced with the heart-wrenching decision to part with their beloved companions in order to keep a roof over their heads. 

What does the Renter’s Bill plan to accomplish for pet owners? 

This is not the first time the Government has attempted to improve the situation for tenants with pets, although there remains a lack of awareness among landlords of their pet-related responsibilities. In January 2021, the Model Tenancy Agreement was updated, urging landlords to justify pet bans. Alas, surveys show that a mere 12 per cent were aware of the new rules and started applying them. 

However, the new Rental (Reform Bill), which formed cornerstone of the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto, includes a number of measures intended to open up rental homes that accept pets. Tenants will have the legal right to request that a pet be permitted to live in their rental property with them, but landlords will be prohibited from implementing a general "no pets" policy.  

Man cuddling cat on sofa - why landlords might be changing their "no pets" rules

Renters may soon have increased rights regarding pet ownership

Landlords will be legally required to grant consent to tenants’ requests for pets, except in cases where it is justified to withhold. Should a landlord deny consent without proper reason, legal action can be taken by the tenant.  

To mitigate potential for pet-related damage to a property, which is often mooted as the primary reason for refusal, a landlord may require the tenant to bear the cost of any incidents as a condition of their approval, and tenants will be legally required to arrange insurance to cover furnishings or other property features from any such occurrences. 

There are, unfortunately, some potential consequences of the Renters (Reform) Bill that won't be welcomed, as reports suggest that three-quarters of landlords intend to increase rents as a deterrent to tenants requesting to keep a pet. 

"If written into law, the proposals could allow many more people to enjoy a home life with their pets"

Of course, before becoming law, the measure must now go through a number of stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, so it is probable that during this time it will undergo considerable changes that will alter how the Bill is interpreted. 

But for now, pet charities and pet owners alike are now rejoicing. If written into law, the proposals could allow many more people to enjoy a home life with their pets, including those who have previously been denied the opportunity to keep an animal in their home, but also improve the mental and physical health of the nation.  

Interested readers can follow the progress of this bill on the UK Parliament website here.

Family-owned, independent pet product provider Johnson’s was founded in 1921 and has remained true to its core roots of manufacturing a broad range of pet healthcare products, from flea and worm treatments to shampoos and treats, all available through high street pet shops and pet stores across the UK. 

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