In the UK we are a nation of pet owners, with normally around 47% of households having a pet. However, pet ownership levels reached an unprecedented high of 62% in 2021/22 due to the pandemic and increased time at home. Around 13 million people rent from a private landlord, (around 1 in 5 of us), yet tenancies with pets are still a hugely emotive issue for everyone concerned; pets, tenants and landlords. Two recent government measures have big implications for renting with pets, find out more below.
Recent changes/proposals affecting letting with pets
1. The government’s model tenancy agreement has been updated to allow tenants to keep pets by default.
2. The Renters Reform Bill white paper of June 2022 has announced proposed changes that will make it easier for tenants to keep pets – including giving tenants the right to request a pet and allowing pet insurance as a permitted tenant payment to landlords.
Before the Tenant Fee Ban in 2019, many landlords allowed pets, and tenancy deposits were increased to allow for a pet deposit in case of any potential damage, but with deposits in England limited to 5 weeks’ rent, landlords no longer have this option. In Wales and Scotland, landlords can request an additional deposit for pets, on top of the tenancy deposit, to cover any damage caused by animals.
Most pet owners have expressed their willingness to pay an additional pet deposit and now hopefully with the changes proposed re: insurance being able to be included this will ease the situation and concerns for both tenants and landlords.
Battersea Pet-Friendly Properties Campaign
“Battersea's Pet-Friendly Properties campaign promotes an open and constructive dialogue between landlords and tenants to support responsible pet ownership in rented accommodation – for the benefit of pets, tenants and landlords.
Sadly, we witness all too often the very real impact of people having to give up a dog or cat due to housing issues. This has devastating impacts for both pets and their owners. This heartbreak doesn't need to happen, and it's why Battersea is leading the charge for more pet-friendly properties.
We want to achieve long-lasting, societal change, so everyone can experience the joy of pet ownership – no matter their housing situation”
In 2021, Battersea conducted a survey on tenants renting in the private sector, a survey of private landlords with the aid of the National Residential Landlords Association, and interviews with both landlord organisations and Build-to-rent providers. The key findings included:
- 76% of tenants already own or aspire to take on a pet in the future
- Only 3% of dog owners reported that their dog had ever damaged property
- 42% of landlords would consider pets if they could insist on insurance against damage caused by pets
Following these surveys Battersea is campaigning for the following recommendations;
- Review the impact of the revised pet clause in the UK Government’s Model Tenancy Agreement
- Incentivise insurance against pet damage
- Ensure public funds lever pet-friendly properties
- Develop practical guidance on pets in flats
This campaign has an extensive amount of resources for Tenants and Landlords such as;
- Advice on asking your Landlord to allow pets
- Your legal rights as a tenant re: pets
View/download the full PDF report here
Prioritising animal welfare and responsible pet owners
Another focus of the proposed Renters Reform bill is the protection and welfare of domestic animals. As well as giving tenants the right to keep pets in their rental property, the bill proposes pet owners have a certificate of responsible animal guardianship.
Certificates will be issued subject to a responsible ownership test, conducted by a registered vet, including:
- Microchipping (for dogs and cats)
- De-worming and de-fleaing
- Required vaccinations
- Ability to respond to basic commands
The bill also proposes that all information regarding an animal and its ownership be entered into a database – including mandatory microchipping for all dogs and cats.
This means that if the proposed bill goes ahead, tenants will not have an unconditional right to keep a pet, only if they hold a responsible animal guardianship certificate and can care for the animal. If living in the rental accommodation puts the animal at risk, or causes danger or nuisance to people nearby, they will not be allowed.