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.
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.”