Pets are a huge part of family life. In a survey by Statistica in 2018/19, it reported that around 40% of the UK population own a pet. With 88% of these people saying that owning a pet improves their quality of life.
However, although our furry friends are a big part of family life, renting with them previously presented significant hurdles. In some cases, people have reported rehoming a pet due to restrictions.
With this in mind, and a large number (around 4.5 million people in 2017) reported to be living in rented accommodation, the government have recently announced an overhaul of tenancy agreements for people looking to rent with pets.
Helping to end pet bans
Currently, only around 7% of landlords advertise their properties as suitable for pets. However, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on 4th January that tenancy agreements will be overhauled to remove restrictions for well-behaved pets.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
“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.”
So what does this mean for landlords?
Some landlords often have reservations about tenants with pets. Mostly because of the perception of what people determine a well-behaved pet. However, trust plays a significant part in this process, and the emphasis will be on the tenant to take responsibility for the animal and its actions.
In some cases, landlords will be able to enforce certain restrictions depending on the property type. For example, dogs in high rise apartments or very small properties with little or no outside space might not be suitable for pets.
At the moment, landlords are not legally bound to use the newly revised contract so it has already been argued that even though the Government has announced this change, uptake could be minimal.
What to do if you want to rent with a pet
Even though these changes have been announced, it doesn’t automatically mean that landlords will implement them. If you’re looking for a pet-friendly property, the search may become a little easier, but it’s still at the discretion of the landlord. If you’re already in a rented property and want to home a pet, don’t forget to chat with your agent or landlord first before committing.
In most cases, if you have a good relationship with the owner or agent, you can talk over your plans and come to an agreement that is suitable for both parties.