UK Government moves towards pet-friendly tenancy

Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher MP announced that the Government plans to include the allowance for well-behaved pets in their model tenancy agreement.;

The Government announced an update to their model tenancy agreement on 28th January, which will ensure that reasonable tenants with well-behaved pets are able to secure leases more easily than ever before.

The Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher MP laid out the update, which will prevent landlords and estate agents from issuing blanket bans on pets.

Now, under their model tenancy agreement, consent for a tenant to have pets will be considered the default position.

Landlords that receive a written pet request from their tenants will now have to object in writing within 28 days, whilst also providing a good reason as to why they believe the tenant keeping a pet is unsuitable.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) stated: “We recognise the importance of pets in providing companionship especially to those living on their own. However, pets are not always suitable in certain properties such as large dogs in small flats without gardens. There is often more risk of damage to a property where there is a pet.”

Mr Pincher acknowledged these concerns by reiterating that landlords have protection from any damage that a tenants pet may cause to their property.

He said:

“Tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property.”

The government’s figures show that merely 7% of private landlords currently advertise pet friendly properties. This causes great difficulty for those with pets to find suitable accommodation and often leads to the tenant having to abandon having pets altogether.

The model tenancy agreement is the governments recommended contract for landlords, thus the changes laid out aren’t enforceable, and many other parties within the industry produce their own standard contracts.

“Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords. This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.” Mr Pincher finished.

It is estimated that over 50% of households in the UK own at least one pet, with that number soaring since the start of the pandemic in March last year, as people sought out animal companionship as a way to combat the isolation caused by the restrictions the UK has spent most of the last year under.

Evidence has shown that interaction with animals has a range of benefits for both our mental and physical health, including the fact that pet owners are more likely to take regular physical exercise when compared to non-pet owners.

A national survey carried out by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare found that 85% of people surveyed thought pets help to reduce feelings of loneliness.

Further studies have shown that pet owners have demonstrated a lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations when compared to non-pet owners.

The new model tenancy agreement is likely to be popular with tenants looking for animal companionship throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.