What are your landlords' legal obligations for allowing pets in lets?

16 June 2022

The government has released details of a new proposal to give tenants more rights to request pets in their private rented properties, under the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.

In January 2021, the government revised the model agreements in England for a shorthold assured tenancy to include a new clause on pets in rental properties, in a move that aimed to create more flexibility for tenants looking to rent a property with a pet. Now, the government has unveiled plans to incentivise landlords to accept tenants with pets in the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.

During the pandemic, there was a 120% increase in demand for pet-friendly rental properties, yet only 7%  of landlords accept pets in their properties.  new research has found that one in five tenants rank the ability to keep pets in their top three priorities when choosing a home to rent.  

What's been proposed under the "A Private Rented Sector White Paper"?

The new paper has unveiled its plans to give tenants the right to request a pet in their home - essentially ensuring that landlords don't implement a blanket ban on tenants. Landlords will have to consider the tenant's request, and won't be able to "unreasonably refuse".

Tenants will also gain the right to challenge the decision. The government will also amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to include pet insurance as a permitted payment, meaning that landlords can require pet insurance, to cover any damage at their property.

This coincides with the government's intention to convert all Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies to periodic tenancies.

You can download a full overview of the proposals in our e-book, Renters' Reform Bill: Your guide to the "A Fairer Private Rented Sector" white paper.

Do landlords currently have to accept pets?

The model tenancy agreement in England includes a section about allowing pets in homes, although landlords and agents should note that these additions are not legal requirements - the government's model agreement is optional to use.

Ross Counsell, Chartered Surveyor and Director at Good Move, says: "Private landlords still have final say on who they rent their property out to, and can 'discriminate' against people with pets if they wish.

"And although tenants can request to have pets in the property, as of yet there is no legal obligation for landlords to grant these requests."

What's covered in the current model tenancy agreement pet clause?

The pet clause in tenancy agreements in England outlines that a tenant must have their landlord's written permission to keep pets in a property. The landlord:

  • can't "unreasonably withhold or delay" that written request
  • should give their consent if they believe that the tenant is a "responsible pet owner" and that the pet is suitable for the property
  • can't charge an additional non-refundable fee to the pet-owner

The landlord could choose to up the deposit to cover any potential unforeseen expenditure caused by the pet, but that deposit still can't pass the deposit cap as outlined in the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

The landlord's consent for pets is the "default position" using this model. If the landlord doesn't reply within 28 days to the tenants' request, the request will be automatically granted to the tenant.

This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information visit gov.uk

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