Pro-Pet campaigners want damage insurance as option for tenants
Momentum is building to have the Tenant Fees Act amended, allowing agents to charge tenants for damage insurance which would then encourage more landlords to allow pets.
Campaign group AdvoCATS has prepared a paper – Heads for Tails – outlining how it believes pet damage insurance could address the worries of landlords and letting agents over allowing dogs, cats and other pets into rented accommodation.
The issue has been put in the spotlight in recent months by two developments.
One is the government’s new model tenancy agreement which includes consent for pets as the default position, meaning landlords who opt to use this type of tenancy agreement are no longer able to issue blanket bans on pets. Under the government version of a tenancy agreement, landlords will be required to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason for this. The other is Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell’s Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation and Protection Bill, a Ten Minute Rule Bill which has had its first reading in the House of Commons.
Now AdvoCATS says it believes the Tenant Fees Act of 2019 serves as a disincentive for agents and landlords to allow pets. This is because damage insurance – which would otherwise have been charged to tenants if they were allowed pets – cannot be charged under the terms of the Tenant Fees Act.
The campaign’s paper says: “Pet ownership has been shown to provide significant benefits to pet, tenant and landlord, with pet owners performing better than average on measures of physical and mental health, and tending to stay longer in tenancies than non-pet owners.”
It continues by suggesting insurance, if paid for by the tenants, could be an answer to current concerns by agents and landlords. “The onus of pet damage insurance falling on tenants, rather than landlords, would allow tenants to build up a no claims history and would avoid higher premiums for landlords in the event of a claim. A number of insurance companies have expressed interest in providing pet damage insurance products but would need the law to change for these insurance policies to be viable.”
Therefore AdvoCATS is calling for a amendment to the Tenant Fees Act; this would require only secondary legislation and thus would not take the extensive period of time that primary legislation requires.