New UK legislation would give tenants the legal right to have a pet

The UK is a nation of dog lovers, we take our dogs to the pubs, on days out to the forests and even on holiday. However, as most tenants with dogs may tell you, finding accommodation in the UK isn’t easy. Now, under new plans, tenants could have the legal right to have a pet in their rented home.

The government’s Renter’s Reform Bill features a 12-point plan of action in which it plans to allow tenants the right to request a pet in their property, ‘which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.’ The Bill also includes plans to amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can request that their tenants buy pet insurance.

This means landlords will be able to require pet insurance, so that any damage to their property is covered.

“We will continue to work with landlords and other groups to encourage a common-sense approach,” the Bill stated. “Pets can bring a huge amount of joy and we are committed to supporting responsible pet ownership in the PRS (Private Rented Sector). Alongside greater security and quality, these measures will help tenants truly feel like their house is their home.”

“Domestic pets can bring joy, happiness, and comfort to their owners, as well as supporting their mental and physical wellbeing including through challenging times. The English Private Landlord Survey 2021 found that 45% of landlords were unwilling to let to tenants with pets,” the Bill stated.

The aim of the proposals is to make it easier for tenants with pets to find private landlords who will accept them

According to research from tech start-up PetsScore, published in the Evening Standard, an increasing number of tenants are now lying to landlords as a result after finding only 7% accept animals.

For landlords, the main concern is damage to their property. However, due to the high demand for pet friendly properties but low number of supply for these properties, many tenants have felt they had to give up their pet.

Last year,  Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, announced a new voluntary leasing agreement that states landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets. Instead under this agreement, consent for pets will be the default position, and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason. However, due to it being voluntary, landlords could simply opt not to use this agreement.

With the new proposed plans tenants would now have the “legal right” to own a pet and landlords will have to provide a good reason for saying no to a tenant’s request. Tenants could also challenge the decision if landlords say no.

Under the new rules, tenants would have the right to request a pet in their property (image: Pexels)

Under current rules, many landlords advertise properties as ‘no pets allowed’. Once in a property, tenants can ask their landlord if they can have a pet but there is no requirement for the landlord to consider this request. Under the proposed reforms, tenants will have a right to request a pet in their property, which the landlord must consider and not unreasonably withhold consent. If landlords are worried about damage to the property as a result of any pet, they will be allowed to request their tenant take out pet insurance.

According to the Evening Standard, the Renter’s Reform Bill will be introduced to Parliament before the end of this parliamentary year. The white paper (published 16 June) may be debated, with final changes made, before being formally introduced to Parliament. The current parliamentary year is expected to run until spring 2023. Once the Bill has been agreed by both Houses, it receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

Jennifer Berezai, co-founder of AdvoCATS,a voluntary organisation which offers a free service to landlords and tenants where a tenant wants to bring a pet into a rented property, welcomed the announcement. In a LinkedIn post, she added that it “is a great day for animal welfare and tenants everywhere.”

Meanwhile, Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said the “biggest concern” has always been the law preventing landlords requiring tenants to take out pet insurance to cover the risk of damage to the property.

For more on the Renters Reform Bill, click here.

For tips on how to find a pet friendly flat, click here.



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