Pets in rentals:

The new government is to bring forward a bill to revolutionise the relationship between tenants and landlords. The Section 21 no-fault eviction system is to be abolished, a Lifetime Deposit scheme will be introduced, and landlords will be expected to allow pets, when they are well behaved.

Full details are still sketchy about the new regime envisaged by government, but a good deal of information, and the general direction of travel, can be gleaned from the government’s guide, “A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants”

Further clues are in the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s press announcement of 4th of January calling on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their rental homes, the new rules to be included in his forthcoming overhaul of the government supplied model residential tenancy agreement.

“More young people and families than ever before are renting and should be able to enjoy the happiness that a pet can bring to their lives. However, currently only around 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets, meaning many people struggle to find a home suitable for themselves and their pets.

The national model tenancy agreement provided by government is the recommended contract for residential landlords to use when signing on new tenants for their properties in England. This comprehensive circa 50 page agreement (with guidance text) sets out the minimum requirements for a new residential letting. The template has provision for alteration by landlords to suit specific circumstances, tenants or properties. The revised model tenancy agreement will be published by the government sometime this year.

Currently it is difficult for would-be tenants to find a landlord who allows tenants to keep a dog or cat, with just 7% of landlords said to advertise their homes as suitable for pets. Landlords argue that there are good reasons for this: badly behaved pets can potentially cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage, a fact which many landlords have learned to their cost. The introduction of pets, sometimes without permission or agreement between the parties, is often cause of friction between landlords and tenants.

The government is accused of making the situation more difficult for landlords taking in pets, by removing their ability to protect themselves financially by banning their taking of additional damage deposits and fees – by capping deposits at 5 week’s rent.

Despite this, the government is now calling on landlords to make it easier for people to have pets in rented homes: “Landlords should no longer stop renters from having pets if they are well behaved, according to the government,” says Robert Jenrick MP:

“Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owner’s through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.

“So, I’m overhauling our model tenancy contract to encourage more landlords to consider opening their doors to responsible pet owners. And we will be listening to tenants and landlords to see what more we can do to tackle this issue in a way that is fair to both.

“This is part of this new government’s mission to improve life for tenants, recognising that more are renting and for longer in life. We’ve already taken action, banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, saving tenants across England at least £240 million a year, and I will continue to take more steps to secure a better deal for renters up and down the country.”

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