In 2020, it was reported that only 7% of landlords advertised their properties as suitable for pets (GOV.UK). With such a small number of pet-friendly rentals available, many tenants are left with no option but to part ways with their beloved pets.
Model Tenancy Agreement
In January 2021, the government revised its Model Tenancy Agreement to support renters with well-behaved pets. This updated agreement encourages landlords to move away from a blanket ban on pets by default. Instead, the default stance has been changed to granting consent for pets, with landlords having 28 days to request a written pet request.
In this model, granting the landlord's consent for pets is the standard procedure. If the landlord fails to respond within 28 days to the tenant's request, the request is automatically granted.
It's important to note that these additions are not currently legal requirements – the government's model agreement remains optional. Despite these changes, properties can still be advertised as 'no pets' or 'no pets considered'.
According to the pet clause in tenancy agreements in England, tenants must obtain written permission from their landlord to keep pets in a property. The landlord:
Before the enactment of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, many landlords permitted pets while increasing tenancy deposits to cover potential damages. However, with tenancy deposits now limited to 5 weeks' rent in England, this option is no longer viable for landlords.
Renters Reform Bill
The proposed Renters Reform Bill is currently awaiting approval from Parliament.
The white paper has outlined changes to make it easier for tenants to have pets. This includes granting tenants the right to request a pet and allowing pet insurance as an acceptable tenant payment. Notably, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 prevents landlords from requesting certain fees and caps the allowable amount for a tenancy deposit.
A new amendment regarding pet insurance in the Tenant Fees Act 2019 is proposed in the government's Renters Reform Bill white paper. The amendment seeks to "legislate to ensure landlords do not unreasonably withhold consent when a tenant requests to have a pet in their home, with the tenant able to challenge a decision".
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 will also be amended to include pet insurance as a permissible payment. This means landlords can require tenants to have pet insurance to cover any potential property damage.
The government aims to promote a common-sense approach and believes that alongside increased security and quality, these measures will help tenants feel more at home in their rented properties.
Furthermore, in addition to the Renters Reform Bill, the government is proposing a Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill. This bill is designed to assist responsible pet owners in finding suitable rental properties.
For many, a pet is like family, and pet owners who move into rental accommodation often face the heart-wrenching possibility of being separated from their furry companions. This bill aims to address this issue, focusing on the protection and welfare of domestic animals. It proposes giving tenants the right to keep pets in their rental property and suggests introducing a certificate of responsible animal guardianship for pet owners.
To receive a certificate, pet owners will need to pass a responsible ownership test conducted by a registered vet. This test will include requirements such as pet vaccination, pest control, spaying or neutering, and basic training.
The bill also suggests maintaining a database containing information about animals and their ownership, including mandatory microchipping for dogs and cats.
If the proposed bill becomes law, tenants won't have an unconditional right to keep a pet. Tenants will need a responsible animal guardianship certificate and must demonstrate the ability to care for the animal. If having a pet in the rental accommodation poses risks or causes disturbances, it may not be allowed.
In cases where landlords choose to restrict pet ownership, a certificate of exemption may be issued. These certificates may be granted for specific groups of dwellings, entire buildings, or certain orders, families, species, or breeds of animals. Landlords must provide a written objection within 42 days of a tenant's request for a pet, providing a valid reason, such as practical constraints in smaller properties.
Despite these changes, tenants will still be legally responsible for covering any costs arising from pet-related damages.
As a nation of animal lovers, more people than ever before have embraced pet ownership in recent years, especially during the pandemic. These regulations strike a balance between helping individuals find homes suitable for both them and their pets, while also safeguarding landlords' properties from potential issues caused by unsuitable or poorly behaved pet
When will these changes take effect?
The Renters (Reform) Bill must undergo the parliamentary process and receive Royal Assent before becoming law. The government plans to implement the rules for pets in two steps:
Step one: The government will provide a six-month notice period before the rules apply to all new tenancies.
Step two: Changes related to pets in rental agreements will apply to all existing tenancies at least 12 months after step one.
Please note that this article is meant as a general guide and should not be considered legal advice. For more information, please visit the official government website at gov.uk.
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