Over the years, Britain has acquired the reputation of being ‘a nation of pet lovers’ however, in spite of this fact, it is notoriously difficult to rent a property with a pet (particularly cats and dogs).
Those looking to move with their furry friends are frequently faced with what can feel like endless rejections from landlords who are not willing to rent to pet owners. In fact, 75% of pet owners face difficulty trying to find pet-friendly properties to rent, while ‘just 7% of private landlords advertise pet friendly properties.‘ So, the question remains, why is it so hard to rent with pets in such an animal-loving nation?
The reasons behind landlords’ unwillingness to allow larger pets, like cats and dogs, into their properties are simple – they are generally more likely to be disruptive and cause damage.
I’m sure all dog owners can recall the moment your dog sees a cat/bird/fox/squirrel/child (the list goes on!) out the window and starts barking incessantly. Similarly, every cat owner knows the frustration of buying your cat the most expensive cat tree available, only to come home to find that your cat actually prefers to claw the sofa and carpet instead.
Unfortunately, the cost for repairing this kind of damage usually has to be borne by landlords themselves and, according to Compare the Market, most ‘standard home insurance policies won’t cover accidental damage caused by pets.‘
Sadly, renting with a pet has actually become more difficult since June 2019. Previously, many landlords allowed renters with pets if the tenants were willing to pay a higher deposit to ‘mitigate for potential damage.’ However, the Tenant Fee Ban (introduced in June 2019) prohibited landlords from increasing security deposits to sums larger than 5 weeks’ rent, leaving landlords with no option to protect themselves against the potential risk of allowing pets.
So, whilst the concerns behind landlords’ reluctance to allow pets into rental properties are not unreasonable, the question for tenants is: what can I do to bring my fluffy friend along with me?
First, it is important for any prospective tenant to note that it is within landlords’ rights to prohibit pets, under reasonable grounds. However, our advice to renters wanting to bring their pets along with them is to have what we call a ‘responsible care plan’ in place.
If you can assure the landlord that you have arrangements in place to responsibly look after your pet and minimise the risk of damage and disruption, most landlords (unless prohibited by a head-lease) are usually happy to allow renters with pets.
The biggest challenge we face as an office with regards to landlords not permitting pets, is tenants who generally have improper care plans (which sometimes involve leaving pets unattended and loose in a flat for 8+ hours). In these cases, the possibility of noise nuisance/damage is high here.
It’s not all doom and gloom for renters hoping to bring their pets along with them. In recent years, the issue of renting with pets has been brought to the government’s attention and measures to rectify this difficulty are being enacted and discussed.
In 2021, for instance, the government updated their ‘model tenancy agreement‘, which now prohibits landlords from issuing ‘blanket bans’ on pets. According to lettingaproperty.com, “allowing pets is now the default position on the government’s recommended model tenancy agreement.” The issue here, however, is that this position is not yet mandated.
Most significantly perhaps, is the fact that legislation which will aid renters with pets is currently on the cards and is awaiting its second reading in Parliament. The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill aims to ‘establish rights to keep dogs and other animals in domestic accommodation’. So, for those frustrated by the difficulty of renting with pets, there is hope for you all in the future.
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By Imogen Bahl