Are the days of ‘no pets’ rentals coming to an end?
A campaigning MP is determined to end pet bans for renters and wants this enshrined in law.
Andrew Rosindell’s ongoing campaign, which aims to prevent landlords from banning responsible pet owners, has now received a boost from minister Robert Jenrick.
The Housing Secretary overhauled the government’s model tenancy contracts to enable renters with ‘well behaved’ pets to secure a tenancy more easily, after Mr Rosindell introduced legislation to parliament in a Private Members' Bill.
The contracts, which are not binding but can be used as the basis of lease agreements made with tenants, have been revised to include consent for pets as the default position. If landlords object, they will need to provide good reasons in writing: for example, a large pet in a small property or a property where having a pet could be impractical.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said he was delighted to have played a role in securing this change and vowed to continue the campaign so that the proposals could be turned into law “to ensure a pet in every home.” The move has been welcomed by the Kennel Club and the RSPCA.
It’s a subject that sharply divides opinion, with practical and emotive arguments on either side.
The UK is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers with around 12 million pet-owning households. It’s estimated that dogs and cats are equally loved, with a population each of about 10 million. Fish come next in the popularity stakes while horses trot into last place. There are about 1 million rabbits in the UK – but did you know that they’re intelligent enough to respond to commands and have teeth that continually grow?
A YouGov poll showed that we talk to, play with, watch telly with, and hug our pets more often than we walk them. It revealed that 16-39-year-olds are the group most likely to kiss their pets, with 50% of them admitting to puckering up to their kitties or pooches. Fortunately, 72% of those surveyed drew the line at kissing their pets on the lips.
With Covid restrictions still in place and many of us working from home, pet ownership seems set to rise even further. The latest YouGov data shows that more than a quarter of UK households either got a new pet during lockdown or knew someone who had.
Puppy prices have gone through the roof since Covid hit and have nearly doubled to around £2000 per pup, although some pedigree and popular cross breeds will cost considerably more. Despite these eye-watering prices, YouGov’s figures reveal that 23% got their most recent pet from a breeder.
Last month the RSPCA again warned about the five-fold increase in puppy farm reports and now provides tips on their website for spotting unscrupulous puppy dealing rings. Animal welfare experts are urging anyone thinking of taking on a new animal to ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’, by looking to registered charities or reputable rescue centres.
If Andrew Rosindell’s campaign is successful, legislation would place strict limits on the ability of landlords to include ‘no pets’ policies, subject to certain requirements and exemptions. Mr Rosindell’s Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill, known as ‘Jasmine’s Law’, has cross-party and public support.
Speaking to parliament at the first reading of his Bill, Mr Rosindell said: “Dogs are more than man’s best friend, they are members of the family and being separated from them is no different from being separated from your brother or sister.”
The Romford MP said that ‘no pets’ rules were now cited by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as the second biggest factor behind people giving up their dogs and had led to more than 200 dogs a year being handed in for rehoming.
He claimed that most landlords in Britain have unnecessary bans on pet ownership and that such restrictions are, “nothing less than discrimination, cruel to the owner and pet alike.”
Despite this, Mr Rosindell recognised that landlords have legitimate concerns which he did not want to dismiss lightly. Irresponsibly owned pets could be a cause of damage, misery and suffering to the animals themselves, to neighbours and to those who manage and own properties.
“We must therefore ensure that landlords concerns are met,” he said.
Pet owners would have to pass the “test of responsible ownership” by obtaining a vet’s certificate before moving in. This would confirm they had a healthy, well behaved animal and were considered to be a responsible owner. For those with dogs, the pet checklist would include being vaccinated, microchipped and responding to basic training commands. Appropriate rules would apply to other animals.
No date has been set for the Bill’s Second Reading in the House of Commons.
Lewis Forrest-Holden, Associate Director in charge of referencing at our Head Office, shares his thoughts:
During lockdown, animals have provided much needed companionship. This is especially true for those that live alone, and we know that owning a pet can help our mental health and physical wellbeing.
Landlords do have valid concerns however, fearing the risks that can come from allowing pets in homes. Some are unhappy that their choice could be taken away and ask how anyone can prove that a pet is well behaved. Others question whether it’s workable for the government to expect a landlord to accept bigger pets, taking into account the various factors that come into play when renting a property. Many are also asking what the impact on rents might be if landlords face additional costs.
Being allowed to take out a tenancy to include the option of a well-behaved pet, either one that’s owned or comes to stay, could of course make a property more attractive and encourage tenants to rent for longer.
Tenants will also continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property so, with no ability to charge a higher deposit, insurance could be a possible solution to cover cleaning, repairs and re-decoration.
Getting to know your applicant before you make the decision to let is extremely important. Financial checks and previous landlord references are vital to the process but can’t tell you everything. Don’t forget to ask the obvious questions too.
Every tenancy is different, and every landlord will have their own preferences. That’s why ourDynamic Application forms are so useful, enabling you to fine-tune your Agent Suite to meet your specific requirements. We recommend you use our dynamic form builder to customise and edit your application forms. Then you can ask the pet question and get the full picture.