What is the future of Pets in Lets for letting agents?

17 June 2024

As the Renters (Reform) Bill did not pass through parliament, what do letting agents need to know about the future of pets in lets? Read our guide to find out.

Last updated: 17 June 2024

It has been traditionally more difficult for renters to find a property when they have a furry, fuzzy, scaly, or feathery friend.  However, as the Renters (Reform) Bill did not pass through parliament before the general election was announced, what are the future pets in lets? 

The Renters (Reform) Bill planned to introduce regulations for landlords and letting agents about their tenant's pets. However, as the Bill did not pass before parliament was dissolved, it is back to square one with pets living in private rental homes.

So what does this mean for our furry friends and their owners? And what does the future look like for pets in lets? Read our guide to find out: 

    1. Are tenants currently allowed a pet in a rented home?
    2. What's covered in the current model tenancy agreement pet clause?
    3. What do letting agents think of pets in lets?
    4. What do political parties say about pets in lets?
    5. What were the new rules for pets under the Renters (Reform) Bill?

Are tenants currently allowed a pet in a rented home?

Pet ownership in a rented property is currently at the landlord's discretion. However, Government data from 2021 indicates that only 7% of private landlords advertised a pet-friendly rental - despite 40% of UK households owning a pet.

While it may be mentioned in a tenancy agreement that pets aren’t allowed in a property, this is seen as “unfair terms” as part of The Consumer Rights Act 2015. A blanket ban on having pets in the home during a tenancy may also make it easier to be discounted if it were ever disputed in court. 

In January 2021, the government revised its Model Tenancy Agreement to help renters with well-behaved pets.

This agreement encouraged landlords to not default on a blanket ban on pets. Instead, the default position was changed to consent for pets, with landlords having 28 days to request a written pet request.  

If an agreement doesn’t mention pets, it is harder for landlords to argue that they are not allowed during the tenancy.

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

Landlords and agents should note that these additions are currently not legal requirements - the government's model agreement is optional.

The pet clause in tenancy agreements in England outlines that tenants must have their landlord's written permission to keep pets on 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

Landlords and letting agents can’t charge an extra fee or ask for a higher deposit if they agree to have a pet during the tenancy agreement, as it would breach the deposit cap requirement during 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 tenant's request, the request will be automatically granted to the tenant.

What do letting agents think of pets in lets?

A report by Goodlord and the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) found that 66% of letting agents believe it would be beneficial to allow 'pet deposits' during a tenancy. 

Out of all of the different elements mentioned in the Renters (Reform) Bill, letting agents feel the most positive about pets in lets. Only 8% of letting agents who completed the survey thought the introduction of 'pet deposits' would be harmful.

Compared to other policies such as the Introduction of Periodic Tenancies and registering on a property portal, pets in lets was believed to create the most beneficial impact on a letting agency's business. 

Find out more information on what agents of future policy priorities for the next government with our Renting Done Right report.

What do political parties say about pets in lets?

In the run-up to the general election, all of the leading political parties release manifestos stating what they wish to achieve if elected.

The Conservative Party stated that if elected, they would reintroduce the Renters (Reform) Bill back into government. This means there may still be a future for pets in lets.

However, the Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party have not promised any future for pets in lets. This does not mean there won't be future legislation or regulations regarding our furry friends, it just has not been confirmed in the parties' manifestos. 

Because of this, letting agents need to be aware of which party is elected and what policies they may introduce.

What were the new rules for pets under the Renters (Reform) Bill?

The Renters (Reform) Bill aimed for tenants to request in writing if they wished to have a pet in their rented property. If a landlord wanted to refuse the request, they needed to have “reasonable” grounds.

Commenting on this point, Chris Norris, Policy Director at the National Resident Landlords Association (NRLA) said: "It still remains unclear as to the exact grounds on which landlords can refuse to let to tenants with a pet, so the government must provide greater clarity on this point”.

The Bill previously outlined that the landlord has to give in or refuse consent by 28 days after the date of the request. Once the consent was given, it can't be withdrawn. 

However, now that the Renters (Reform) Bill has not passed, it is unclear what the future of pets in lets will be. 

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

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