The current pandemic has seen a rise in people becoming pet owners due to the ability to devote more time to the animal and work from home whilst it settles in. With only 7% of landlords advertising pet friendly properties; in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets to find somewhere to live.
The new Model Tenancy Agreement introduced by the Government last week will make it easier for tenants with well-behaved pets to find and secure rented accommodation. This means landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets. The relevant model clause now stipulates that the landlord can only reject a pet request if: they are not satisfied the tenant is a responsible pet owner, or the pet is of a kind unsuitable for the premises.
Landlords will be prohibited from charging a fee to tenants who wish to keep pets or other animals at a property. However, permission may be given on the condition that the tenant pays an additional reasonable amount towards the deposit. Provided this doesn't breach the deposit cap requirements under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The Government believes this will help people with pets to find the right home, whilst ensuring landlords properties are safeguarded.
How are landlords protected?
To ensure landlords are still protected under the new Model Tenancy Agreement, the tenant will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damages caused to the property.
A responsible pet owner must also be aware of their responsibilities to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households.
The new rules mean that landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request being submitted by a tenant, with a justified reasoning as to why it is impractical for that specific property.
What are the current rules?
As it currently stands, landlords have been able to issue blanket bans on pets by inserting a clause into the tenancy agreement in relation to owning the pet.
If a pet is permitted, a clause can include requirements such as deep cleaning the property before the end of tenancy, replacing any damage caused by the pet or fixing any damage caused to the garden. If any rules in the clause are disregarded the landlord may deduct costs from the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:
“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.”