Will the Renters (Reform) Bill cause a rise in pet ownership?

13 May 2024

Upcoming legislation means that we are likely to see more pets in rented properties. But will this have an effect on animal welfare?

The Renters (Reform) Bill - the most important piece of legislation for renters in England of the past 30 years - is due to become law. One of the major changes - along with the abolition of Section 21 and the change to rolling tenancies - is more rights for tenants to request a pet in a property.

When the Bill has passed, landlords will not be able to “unreasonably” refuse a tenant’s request for a pet. In return, landlords will be able to demand some form of pet insurance to cover the costs of damage a pet may incur on a property.

The Animal Sentience Committee has now weighed into the Renters (Reform) Bill, providing suggestions to ensure animals’ health and safety, with a projected rise in pet ownership. 

Want to know more about the ins and outs details of the bill? Read our full guide to Pets in Lets here.

How many landlords currently allow pets?

The UK is a nation of pet lovers: there are 36 million pets in the UK, excluding aquatic animals. Dogs and cats account for the majority of this - 26 million - but other pets include rabbits, tortoises, guinea pigs, horses, snakes, and more. 

Government data indicates that nearly half of landlords are unwilling to let to tenants with pets. In March 2024, Goodlord analysed more than one million completed tenancies over the past five years. It found that landlords in the South West are the most pet-friendly region, with 8% of all tenancies giving the green light to pets. 

Download the data: Tenancies that allow pets in rented properties, 2019-2023

Will more tenants get a pet?

Goodlord’s State of the Lettings Industry report 2023 surveyed more than 1,500 tenants. Just over one-third of respondents (36%) said they didn’t own a pet but would like to. Of these people, 95% said they intended to get a pet once restrictions are lifted. 

The Animal Sentience Committee has made a recommendation that the Bill needs to make clear whether a tenant needs to make a request per pet. The Government clarified this point that the Bill does not restrict tenants from having just one pet, but that it would also draw up guidance to make this clearer.

How are landlords and letting agents feeling?

A recent survey from Leaders Roman Group unveiled that landlords have significant concerns about pets in properties. It claims 56% of landlords predict negative impacts due to the Bill’s approach to pet ownership. 

Goodlord’s State of the Lettings Industry report 2023 revealed that 47% of letting agents and 54% of landlords believed that pets in lets would have a positive impact. 

What about animal welfare?

An estimated 250,000 animals go to rescue centres each year. In the summer, the RSPCA reports that they collect an abandoned animal every hour. 

The RSPCA also saw a 6% increase in the number of dogs taken into care, and a 4% increase of cats between 2021 to 2022.

The Animal Sentience Committee has stated that the new ombudsman for private renters to lodge a complaint against their landlord should include training on animal welfare. This is because "claims about animal welfare are likely to feature in disputes about whether landlords reasonably or unreasonably refuse tenants' requests to keep a pet."

The Government has broadly agreed to this suggestion to ensure the welfare of animals.

New call-to-action

Further reading